It goes without saying that the whole 60 Minutes saga has some serious knobs on it.
However, I don’t just mean the ’60 Minutes are a bunch of idiots with a serious corporate culture problem'(*) kind of knobs. I also mean the ‘this all got resolved very quickly and a little too easily with a lot of money changing hands’ knobs.
Doesn’t it seem strange that:
- Even Forrest Gump could have hatched a less harebrained plan to get the children back
- The mother never really seemed concerned about spending significant time in jail? (Tara Brown sure was!).
- The mother was confident enough to do an exclusive media interview from jail before she knew what the Lebanese justice system was going to do with her? I wonder if she got paid for that?
- After the mother’s long crusade to get her children back, she was more than happy to relinquish all custody claims to her children so quickly?
- When the mother actually had her children back in her hands, instead of going straight to the getaway boat (you know, like ANYBODY IN HER POSITION WOULD DO), she reportedly agreed to call the father from a pubic payphone so that 60 Minutes could film her sticking it to him?
Sally Faulkner had her children, the getaway boat was waiting at the docks, an extraordinary story was in the can but the crew from 60 Minutes was not satisfied. They had to have one last shot.
Ben “The Bear’’ Williamson, a popular cameraman at Nine, had spent the past few hours filming Faulkner’s reunion with her two children within the cramped confines of a second-floor apartment in Sabra, one of Beirut’s poorest suburbs. Before he packed up his camera gear, he wanted Faulkner to do one more thing: go out into the street and ring her estranged husband, Ali Elamine.
Set against a chaotic, authentic Lebanese street scene, this would be Faulkner’s moment of triumph, her “honey, I’ve got the kids’’ moment. Instead, this moment of Nine hubris led to the ruin of all.
- The father was impressively calm and composed during this whole affair for a guy that ‘nearly’ lost his kids – and was all too happy to speak to the media, including interviews on The Project and with the always classy Kyle and Jackie O after the ‘settlement’ was reached? I wonder if he got paid for those interviews?
- The father’s public comments were all very polished – as if he had hired a PR expert to tell him what to say? (ten bucks says he did).
- The father and his mother just so happened to have ‘political’ connections?
Yeah, you’re right, it’s probably all just a big co-incidence.
That said, could the following explain things?
- At first, the mother was genuinely trying to get the children back. Her public articles clearly show this.
- 60 Minutes then came along and got involved with its chequebook.
- 60 Minutes, the mother and the ‘A-Team’ then came up with their ill-fated plan to filch the children back in broad daylight on a busy street in Beirut:
But Lebanese officials see the operation as a mix of arrogance and stupidity.
The area where the two children were grabbed in south Beirut is heavily patrolled and monitored by Hezbollah and Amal, two powerful Lebanese political and militia organisations.
- Although in breach of usual protocol (and all principles of basic intelligence), the hired goons were happy to have 60 Minutes tag along – probably for the simple reason that 60 Minutes was paying the bill and that $115K child snatching jobs probably don’t grow on trees.
- The well-connected father was on to the plan from the beginning, having had access to the mother’s emails:
And the father’s family is politically connected.
His mother is a cousin of the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, Nabih Berri.
He leads the Amal movement and has ready access to an enormous security apparatus, which includes control of ports and airports.
On top of that, Mr el-Amien told the ABC he knew, to a degree that they were coming because one of the children’s iPads still had access to Ms Faulkner’s email account and he saw messages detailing early discussion of the operation.
- Rather than genuinely trying to stop the plan, what if the father sensed an opportunity, called the mother and said something like ‘I know what you’re about to do and you have no chance of getting the kids. But what if you go ahead with the plan anyway and land everyone in jail. From there, I’ll extract some cash out of 60 Minutes and give you a cut – on the condition that you bugger off for good’?
From there, the mother would have had two choices: stay in Australia and give up the kids with no money (and break the news to 60 Minutes that they’d done their dough), or give up the kids in exchange for a Lebanese adventure and some life changing money.
The possibility of the mother and father planning all of this from the beginning crossed my mind. However, this probably didn’t happen for one simple reason: even the most optimistic planner wouldn’t plan for 60 Minutes being stupid enough to fund and help out with a child snatching operation in Lebanon.
The internal and public investigation of 60 Minutes and its conduct is just getting started. It would also be worthwhile paying some attention to the mother.
(*) PS: they are the biggest bunch of idiots and do have a serious culture problem, but this is hardly a revelation.