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CES boss comes to Ivanka Trump's defense ahead of keynote speech

Rex Crum, The Mercury News on

Published in Science & Technology News

The annual CES conference is underway in Las Vegas, and along with the massive crowds, new gadgets on display, and Apple making an official appearance for the first time in decades, there remains one topic that has probably gotten more attention than anything, or anyone associated with this year's show:

Ivanka Trump.

President Trump's daughter is slated to give a keynote presentation at CES on Tuesday on the topic of "The Path to Future Work". CES said Trump and Gary Shapiro, the chief executive and president of the Consumer Technology Association, the group that runs CES, will hold a "fireside chat" to discuss "how the (Trump) administration is advocating for employer-led strategies that invest in reskilling workers, create apprenticeships and develop K-12 STEM education programs."

The CES conference is one of the largest annual gatherings of tech companies and industry officials. An estimated 200,000 attendees are expected to descend upon Las Vegas for the event.

As Trump, who serves as a White House adviser to her father, has often proved to be a lightning rod for Trump Administration policies, there has been some backlash to her appearance at CES. But, despite the criticsim, Shapiro defended the decision to have Trump at the conference.

In an interview with the BBC, Shapiro said CES wanted to increase its attention on jobs as a topic at the conference, and that Trump is qualified to speak on such matters due to factors such as her roles as co-chair of both the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which includes Apple, Walmart, IBM and other companies, and the National Council for the American Worker.

"One of the big things we did not focus on enough a couple of years ago is jobs," Shapiro told the BBC. "Now, last year, we really went into it big time with apprenticeships and other things."

Despite Shapiro's reasoning, Twitter lit up in recent days with criticisms of Shapiro for having Trump appear in such a high-profile arena at the conference instead of other women who serve as executives at many leading tech companies.

"Gary Shapiro @CES could've asked any number of women with an outstanding proven body of work in tech/business to speak but instead invited Princess Nepotism #IvankaTrump-whose body of work is breast implants & a rich corrupt daddy.#Dumbasshttps://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50988743 ...." wrote Twitter user @KTFaye.

 

"I hope she is boo boo and told to leave. She's playing up to be the next president! More out rages things from the mafia family. #IvankaTrump @GOP will put any nitwit in the office," tweeted someone with the handle of @BillGallagher20.

"A lecture on jobs by a woman who has only ever worked for her dad, who has only ever worked for his dad (with a loan from his dad)," said Twitter user @johnwbradley.

Other keynote speakers at the event include former eBay and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who is currently CEO of mobile-entertainment platform Quibi, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff and Hyun-Suk Kim, the president and CEO of Samsung's consumer electronics edition.

Shapiro didn't tell the BBC if Trump's keynote was a CES idea, or requested by the Trump Administration, and tried to brush aside any political implications that could arise from her appearance.

"Our focus at this point is not to make this a political event, but to focus on the fact that this is about jobs in the future," Shapiro said.

(c)2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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