With the future for Tara Brown and the 60 Minutes crew remaining uncertain, Channel Nine journalists Tracey Grimshaw and Karl Stefanovic have come to the defence of their colleagues currently in jail in Beirut.
In a column for The Australian, A Current Affair host Grimshaw wrote, “Those colleagues are our friends in jail on the other side of the world, and I’m going to be totally straight with you: I want them home.”
The crew were detained in Beirut while filming the story of Australian woman Sally Faulkner’s attempt to recover her two children, who are currently living in Lebanon with their father.
Sharing nicknames and personal memories of each crew member currently being held, Grimshaw continued, “I want the big, boofy smiling soundo Tangles [David Ballment] home on the couch with his splendid wife Laura, a mate of mine. I can’t stand to see her in pain, and she’s no good without the person she loves best in the world.
A Current Affair host Tracey Grimshaw. Source: Facebook.
"I want Tara [Brown], a good, kind woman whom I’ve known for more than 15 years — in the old days when we could still both do lunch — back here playing in the yard with her two gorgeous little boys, hearing about what they’ve done on school holidays while she’s been away.
"I want cameraman Benny the Bear [Ben Williamson] to walk in the front door of the home he shares with his childhood sweetheart Cara. The door will have a hand made sign on it saying "Welcome home Daddy" It’s a ritual his two little girls have whenever he goes away, to make that sign. I think this one might be bigger than usual, but it’s always been big enough for him.
"And I want Stephen Rice — Ricey/Longrain/Bags — to be back home with his much loved wife Denise, hearing all about his kids’ Uni work and recent travels, and planning his parents’ upcoming 60th wedding anniversary in July."
60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown. Source: Channel Nine.
According to Stefanovic, who co-hosts the channel's popular Today Show, Brown was simply "trying to expose the truth of a story, fraught with legal hurdles that we can't report on, and which usually protect the perpetrator".
Adding that in recent years Brown had covered high profile issues such as Cardinal George Pell's involvement in the catholic church's sexual abuse cover ups, and reporting on paedophile Peter Scully, the latter of which Brown won a Walkley Award for.
"Journalism – by definition is the work of collecting writing and publishing news stories and articles. Who, what, when, where, why are the cornerstones of journalism," Stefanovic said.
CCTV footage capturing the moment the children were taken from their grandmother. Post continues after video...
"Tara is a friend. She is a colleague. She is a mother. She is a brilliant journalist. She has asked those questions over and over again. She has consistently broken stories, and forensically exposed wrong doing in society all around the world. She has religiously and without favour fought for the truth."
Hoping that truth will out sooner rather than later, Stefanovic added, "the courts will decide our dear colleagues' fate. I hope the public can be patient."
Today co-host Karl Stefanovic. Source: Facebook.
But many in the media consider the crew's actions reckless, borderline illegal and focussed on improving ratings rather than following the law and reporting the news.
Hitting back, Grimshaw added, "Our four friends are not “tabloid cowboys.” They are not a threat to society. That’s probably the biggest Captain Obvious statement you will read all day. They are good people who care about what they do, who love their families and friends and are loved very much back."
60 Minutes has also shed light on the issue last night, beginning their weekly program with an update to viewers.
60 Minutes report Ross Coulthart's update on the crew in Beirut. Post continues after video...
"60 Minutes has been featured in the news a lot over the last week because four members of our team remain in police custody in Beirut, Lebanon," Ross Coulthart began.
"We are working relentlessly to bring them home and we acknowledge the strong support of their families in helping us do that.
Coulthart said that Brown, who is being held separately in a women's detention centre is being treated well.
Rice, Williamson and Ballment are being held together.
60 Minutes reporter Ross Coulthart. Source: Channel 9.
"We want you to know that every possible effort is being made to ensure our team's wellbeing as they go through the legal process," Coulthart said reassuringly.
When asked how much Channel Nine knew of the crew's plan prior to their departure, a Channel Nine spokesperson told news.com.au that "there are gaps in what we know and until they’re back and we can talk with them and see what happened we won’t know".