Australian journalists imprisoned in the Middle East for going to extraordinary lengths to chase a story. What’s the hashtag …?!

But hang on. This is no Peter Greste-style inspirational story of journalistic integrity in the face of tyranny and injustice. Just a grubby news organisation facilitating child abduction in pursuit of ratings.

Lebanese authorities allege Nine paid thugs-for-hire to snatch two kids off the streets of Beirut, leaving their stunned grandmother shoved to the ground. Imagine if the situation were reversed, Aussie children bundled into a van on a Sydney street at the behest of their Lebanese father and funded by a Lebanese media outfit.

That the desperate mother — “a lioness, separated from her cubs,” as one sympathetic hack to the whole affair wrote today — is now behind bars is a sad tale (though desperation is not a mitigating circumstances for violent crime). But spare us any outrage if the book is thrown at Tara Brown and her manipulating TV crew.