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Barcelona tonight

Guest post by Paul Walter, a longtime friend of my blog ‘No Place for Sheep’ and ‘The AIMN’.

Fans of Media Watch will recall from twenty years ago an episode where Channel 7’s TDT got caught out on a profound fraud involving the pursuit of Christopher Skase in Spain.

Now, why am I bought to mind of this?

At the moment a big story has broken involving the arrest of a 60 Minutes team in Beirut during an episode about a “recovery” of children held by their father who had failed to return them to their mother after a holiday.

Now, my sympathies are deeply for this woman, but my real interest in the event is a growing unease in my own mind about what on earth possessed Channel Nine to pursue a risky and violent stratagem in pursuit of a story. In fact, I am inclined to wonder to what extent the woman was exploited and now risks jail for such a venture, let alone the crew and highly paid rescue team

Did Nine choose the story in the hope of hope impressing their public or was this a genuine interest and concern in the issue of custody battles involving kids in different countries?

I believe what changes the issue is the use of Muslims as a subject at a time when an election is due and emotions have been high concerning what some term “Islamophobia”, as well as a crass faux conservative feminist aspect (I did say earlier my sympathies are with the woman and I bear no grudge against feminism itself, the point is the pretence of feminism as a means for reinforcing political and ethnic tendencies in an audience, as well as providing a cognitive pay-off for the continued watching of such reports; no nuances, just heroes and villains brought to book by 60 Minutes heroes.)

Now, what further arouses my reawakening of scepticism about what happens behind the scene with this sort of television comes from the old issue of chequebook journalism and the lack of much information about how these events are constructed.

What local msm seem not to have reported is the huge sum paid a mercenary rescue crew to do the snatch whist conveniently watched by cameras for a bit of drama. But the violence of the snatch caused a nasty incident, not a heroic moment for 60 Minutes and jeopardised this woman’s chance of getting her kids back.

No doubt a huge campaign will be launched further valorising 60 Minutes and worsening our relationship with mid-easteners, perhaps also ramping up emotion with local Muslim youth as well … cultural sensibilities.

My opinion is that this sort of thing is reckless and dangerous and done for a whole bundle of poor reasons, yet the truth must “out” as to the reliability of media and press as sources of information, these days.

I originally published this article on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Terry2

    I’m most impressed with the Beirut judge who has called on the parents to grow up and recognize their responsibilities as parents and put the interests of the children ahead of their own.

    Channel Nine have a lot to answer for in manufacturing and funding this story on the streets of Beirut.

    Can you imagine the outcry if this had happened on the streets of Melbourne or Sydney with a Lebanese TV crew.

  2. Michael Taylor

    The Beirut judge impressed me too, Terry.

  3. paul walter

    You get the feeling it is a throwback to the imperial times of Kerry Packer, when Nine was a law unto itself. Times have changed and influence and power have waned, all that remains is the old arrogance.

    This no longer works without a kingpin’s power to back it up. What once worked as a coercii
    ve capacity unchallenged, unquestioned and submitted to without thought, now only antagonises and offends and even concentrates contempt.

  4. paul walter

    I’ve a final thought for the mo. I’ve adopted the attiude that this post is about media. The torture rack for marriages breaking up and child custody fights is issue enough for a whole new thread at a respectable current affairs site.

    The people at the centre of the custody dispute and the people at Nine inscribed of a peculiar media subculture of entitlement are as much human and as much a product of social conditioning as I am. The couple play roles instilled by culture and reinforced through media and its time media had a think about what it actually does, I feel.

    People like Attenborough and the folk who do 4 Corners, say Marian Wilkinson on Panama, prove that media can be profitable and educational rather than diversionary, so at bottom tabloid tv is indeed “political” for this writer, if it consciously reinforces racist, sexist and classist stereotypes in favor of oligarchy, beyond mere crass exploitation involving specific cases.

  5. Sir ScotchMistery

    I like your assessment of the gravity of the situation, and Michael and Terry’s point re the Judge is well founded and I agree completely. We have spent far too much time thinking about judges in places like Bali, who are apparently so utterly corrupt anything is possible, then to find a thoughtful and realistic man sitting on a bench in a Muslim country is refreshing. It forces us to think about our Islamophobia and to call it for what it is. Simple racism.

    The points of the OP about the values 60 Minutes added to the decision to film this crime, thus making their staff parties to the crime both before and after the fact, is to make a complete mockery of all judicial systems, wherever they exist, including, I have to add Australia, since you could not in good conscience carry this same crime out in Australia and not expect some form of response.

    In the making of the points however, I believe the OP gives the MSM as represented by 9, and their audience, as represented by anyone without a life who sits down and watches 60 minutes, far too much credit.

    I can’t see either of those groups possessing the intellect required to discern crime from entertainment, especially since, in many respects, 60 Minutes is a crime against entertainment.

  6. blair

    “Did Nine choose the story in the hope of hope impressing their public or was this a genuine interest and concern in the issue of custody battles involving kids in different countries?”

    No, think Profit, ratings, advertising time.
    I think you are being too kind or even naïve to think they had any altruistic motivation. they got what they deserve.

  7. townsvilleblog

    This is yet another Muslim story. Why do Lebanon not respect Australian law that granted custody to the mother? It is the father who should be facing kidnap charges not the people who are. This is a religious (Islamic) Court reinforcing their religion and its rules, the mother should have her children returned to her and be allowed to leave with the Ch9 crew, full stop. Why haven’t the Australian officials done more to help these Australians, what has Ms Bishop done? This is a ridiculous situation, if it were possible, we should send in a crack SAS team to free them all and bugger their law, as they don’t respect ours. Gee this crap makes me mad!

  8. Michael Taylor

    So, townsvilleblog, you’re suggesting we send a team over there to not only break laws but possibly kill people. I find that disgusting. As a person who is half Lebanese I find that comments like that will do nothing but inflame situations. You say that Lebanon should respect Australia laws. The funny thing is, they do. Yet you want to pay no respect to their laws. Your attitude is appalling.

  9. jimhaz

    I know nothing about the case and don’t care either way. I have no sympathy for either parent. Those westerners stupid enough to marry a Muslim get what they deserve (controversial no doubt, but anyone who rejects religious ideology should feel the same).

    The sentence in due course will be quite light providing a sufficient level of bribe is paid.

    What I hate is politicians immediately saying as an auto response they respect the laws of other countries. In effect this general diplomatic lie being a standard response is saying, as an example, that they respect the right of a Saudi judge to sentence/whip/stone a woman who was raped, or for homosexuals to be jailed and sometimes killed. Politics for wimps.

  10. Carol Taylor

    Townsvilleblog, there is no suggestion that the mother went through the Australian court system, to the contrary the mother clearly states that she ‘destroyed’ the children’s passports. Under usual circumstances, a parent asks for an urgent/interim court order to prevent any child/ren being taken out of the country. It appears that the mother failed to make any application. To my knowledge there is no Consent Order granting the mother sole residency, and in fact lived in Lebanon for a number of years. This is something fathers have fought for, and for years, to have equal rights to have any children residing with them.

  11. Carol Taylor

    Jimhaz, are you sure that the family is Muslim? Lebanon has a very large population of followers of the Roman Catholic faith, or are you just racist per se against anyone of Middle Eastern heritage.

  12. Michael Taylor

    So, jimhaz, it’s because the family are Muslims. I guess it’d be alright then if they were Catholics, as a number of Lebanese are.

  13. paul walter

    I had hoped it wouldn’t happen.

    The Phobes, creations of tabloidism, have turned up.

    This is the sort of hysterical stuff that has been instilled into suggestible elements of the public to manufacture consent for killing millions of Middle Easteners- Arabhecht- for their oil and destroying democracy here. Welcome to the Dr Haneef State and go read a history book, a few of you, after you’ve been deprogrammed. Facepalm heddesk, and more.

  14. paul walter

    At this very minute on ABC on this: The woman was offered and paid to ok the antic.

    I wonder how much and if this influenced the decision…

  15. Michael Taylor

    So, Paul, because this young mother was paid to put on a bit of an act, people come here suggesting that we should kill people in Lebanon. Disgusting, isn’t it. It makes me feel sick. It probably makes most of feel sick.

  16. paul walter

    Michael Taylor, I don’t underestimate the power of suggestion/ cultural reinforcement and the conclusion that an at least partly consciously initiated very airtight simulacra is now in full function parallel to the sort of reality that has, for example, another story from Nauru of a young woman raped during an epileptic fit, buried in a corner of a single newspaper in this country.

    Am sure it will be the subject of the next 60 adverts episode..or not.

  17. paul walter

    Wait up… isn’t MSM censored when it comes to even knowing about these things? No selectivity here.

    To the phobes I’d ask, why is one persons’ problems given precedence over even worse examples elsewhere?

  18. Kyran

    Seems to me the article was written about the media treatment of a story, not the facts of the story.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was ratified in 1980. Lebanon is not a signatory. There are currently 94 member states, most of whom have signed up in recent years.
    This convention was specifically designed due to the failure of legal communities (globally) to recognise decisions made in other jurisdictions.

    In a previous job, I knew a fellow who had a private investigation firm in Queensland. “Child recovery” was one of his specialties, which was very lucrative. Incarceration in an overseas jail was merely a risk of the job. I also knew of companies that used to ‘video’ process servers when a summons was being served. The more ‘aggro’ they could incite, the better. The two markets for the sale of the video were the nightly current affairs shows, who would pay $1,000’s, depending on seconds of broadcast.

    With regard to Lebanon, its legal system is derived from military rule (first the Ottoman’s and then the French). Whilst it is nowhere near perfect, it is respectful of its own diversity.

    “Lebanon is an Arab state with a number of peculiarities. In addition to its remarkable geographic location
    and natural resources, its diverse society includes 18 different religious groups. This multi-sectarian
    population is what distinguishes Lebanon from other Arab states.”

    I do not have any legal training to be able to comment on what, if any, legal obligation the Lebanese judge may have in accepting Orders made in an Australian court (As Ms Taylor pointed out, assuming there are any). I do, however, have enough experience to be able to say sovereign states have equal right to their own judiciaries.
    With regard to the point made by Mr Walter on the rule of law in Nauru, another article was published this week about a man on Nauru being charged with ‘attempted suicide’. In that article, it explains that Nauru’s legal system is based solely on (largely antiquated) Queensland law! Surely, if we want to get indignant about perceptions of injustice in an overseas jurisdiction, we need look no further.

    If you want to read more;



    I’m with you, Mr Taylor. Ignorance makes me sick. And media companies choosing to profit from ignorance is disgusting.
    Thank you Ms Wilson. Take care

  19. John Kelly

    The mother’s actions are understandable. Channel Nine, on the other hand, have been exposed for the ratings chasing fools that they are. Chequebook journalism has just reached new heights of absurdity. The 60 minutes crew were foolish in the extreme to think they could pull this off. My other concern is that the courts hold some responsibility in encouraging this sort of behaviour. They bring down a ruling which includes a recommendation that the mother do what she can to get the children back. Does this mean they are giving countenance to committing a crime in a foreign country?

  20. paul walter

    Kyran and JK both “nail” aspects. Kyran, just out at SMH, is an article examing exactly the same aspect, the dificult conditions with in Lebanon a place not as fortunate as our country. What I’d find offensive about that it is the subceptional anti hezbollah message without consideration of the real nature of mid east affairs as wilfully counterproductive and possibly constructive or reinforcing of racism ( election is due, ramp up emotions).

    John Kelly, I find Ms Faulkner’s position must be untenable and feel the agony vibes from here. But the information you give influencing your conclusion seems again to emphasise Australain Victimhood/ Entitlement as a reinforced, burgeoning national tendency, something that this time hit a brick wall in the form of reality.

  21. Kyran

    My apologies, Mr Walter, for not acknowledging your authorship.
    The only legal doctrine I can think of that equates to the ‘Hague convention’ is that of ‘extradition’. Both doctrine’s are reliant on treaties between sovereign countries. From anything I’ve read, these are more likely to be signed or ratified as a political decision.
    It seems ironic that so much of the perception of Hezbollah in the public domain wilfully ignores the amount of humanitarian work the organisation does.
    Whilst I largely agree with Mr Kelly’s comment, I am cautious about comment on the court’s orders. My experience with them is that they are usually very specific to the individual case and incredibly detailed. The devil may well be in the detail, which I am not familiar with.
    Take care

  22. Slapsy

    I wonder what the kids think about this? Could it even be possible that someone has even bothered to speak to them about their preferences.

  23. paul walter

    Yet, this was to be the subtext with that 60 Adverts episode,” (White) Caped Crusaders rescue childen for weepy heroine from misogynist husband held in wicked alien Muslim country” Its not that the assumption is tested, it collapses under the weight of historical evidence almost immediately, but itprovided also beaut back drop for the soap opera bearing the subliminal message.

    But there it is.. not balatant propaganda but a subtle rigging of the game in favour of conservative, inward looking memes that jeopardises a necessary appreciation of what goes on in a real world. Only they beleived their own bullshit and now moulder in jail for the moment.

    Barthes and Baudrillard would have loved it.

  24. paul walter

    Please Slapsy, try to see the children in the context of being unfortunate but unavoidable collateral damage… greater cause and all that.. you know!!

    This at the personal level of a Wars of the Roses quarrelling couple undergoing a marriage bust up (Kramer V Kramer) and in the wider context of an Intervention that could so easily led to real harm for the kids

  25. paul walter

    One last remark for now. If Westeners continue to antagonise people living in fractious places like Lebanon and someone is incensed enough to leave a bomb somewhere, in an aussie shopping mall, say in retaliation, in the following eqully reckless tabloid hue and cry, who will be blamed and who will remember the real message that came from the Bali Bombings?

    Just comes to mind, the wry remark of Barthes in “Myth Today”:

    “..the bourgeoisie always remain obscured..”

  26. paul walter

    So much for one last remark..

    Al Jazeera report just on tel, the like of which I haven’t seen yet in local msm, is a story from Nauru.

    This story involves a man alone there apart from his little daughter. His daughter is taken from him, he protests and is put in solitary.

    Eventually he attempts suicide.

    The response from the authorities there is to fine him $155 for attempting suicide.

    My question is, had 60 Minutes had the choice between two stories, this one and Faulkner, which one would they have chosen, why and what does it say about the tabloid world view?

    If my hunch is right, what would it say for 60 Minutes?

  27. paul walter

    A new day dawns. A fresh new day, unencumbered of the past, in the wake of heartfelt soul-searching.

    Is it the same with Australian MSM. A clean breast is made of the gross deficiencies in taboid msm, and a sadder and wiser meeja mends it’s ways?

    Yes, and I am Daffy Duck.

    The Sunday Dailies, en masse run this sort of horseshit: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/60-minutes-case-family-members-of-detained-channel-nine-team-release-joint-statement-20160417-go867r.html

    That’s from Fairfax, the Murdoch Tele is far worse.

  28. Terry2

    Hi Paul

    Adam Whittington the guy who set up the abduction and who is currently in jail in Beirut has opened up :

    “Whittington said he received two internet transfers of funds: the first for 40 percent of the agreed fee of more than $115,000, and then a second for the remaining 60 percent from Channel Nine several months ago.

    The money was for the planning and recovery of three-year-old Noah and five year old Lahela from their southern Beirut home so they could be returned to Faulkner.

    “It was direct from Channel Nine, it was from their accounts department and they paid it in two instalments,’’ Whittington said from behind a heavily meshed door at the Baabda detention centre in Beirut.”

    So Channel Nine, who exactly concocted this disgraceful episode ?

  29. paul walter

    Appreciate that Terry2. You are typical of the more thoughtful bystander, who watches things like this unfold and takes the time and effort to think through what has been observed, for its implications.

    Ps..Have folk noticed another Tall Poppy tabloid antic involving the hapless Grant Hackett?

    But far more important, the War on Terrierism continues.
    News cameras were waiting en-masse at the airport, for Johny Depp and his girlfriend, involving Barnaby’s wee yorkies.

    Perhaps a case more of the Green Needle than the Green Line?

    Seriously, why did they even bother coming?

  30. paul walter

    The thread has been long passed by the newscycle, yet Barcelona Tonight remains a high profile issue, especially with likely questionable msm coverage during a crucial election.

    Here is yet another examination, this time from ex MW host Richard Ackland, warning of likely Nine duplicity and obfuscation in the airing of details concerning the stunt, as well as its nature.


  31. paul walter

    I intended to leave this alone, but this following epitomises what to me is an outlook problem with these people (60 Adverts), absolutely clueless, like the thief caught in the act. (S)he is sorry for doing wrong and contrite, or sorry to be caught out?


    I know, Corporate Person stuff again..

  32. paul walter

    Back again. Sorry.

    I’m back after watching 4 Corners do REAL broadsheet current affairs, this concerning the barbaric death of a refugee denied adequate treatment when ill at Nauru.

    What I really want to mention is the entire Media Watch episode on the 60 Adverts debacle, so much info I can’t begin to continue and can’t provide the clip because it is not up yet.

    Please, anybody who cares about the REAL Australian tabloid msm and it’s (black) “values” , this MW is a must-view when available.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Paul, hopefully it’ll be in iTunes in the morning.

  34. paul walter

    Michael, did you see those two shows? Both were fearsome. One type of journalism tries to expose the truth, the other, obscure it.

    Some current affairs is legit and some just base counterfeit propaganda and 60 Adverts and the like are nauseating outstanding examples of the second category. Tonight was very serendipitous in providing the ultimate if unwitting contrast.

    People need to understand the role sexist, racist tabloid media and press play in setting the stage for the sleazy conservative manipulation of the Australian electorate.

  35. Michael Taylor

    Haven’t seen them yet, Paul. I subscribe to MW through iTunes, so I’ll at least get to see that one tonight.

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