60 Minutes exposed Greg Mortenson
Jeez, this bums me out. 60 Minutes tonight exposed Greg Mortenson, author of the best-selling Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, as a pathological exaggerator at best, and at worst a crook who's been personally enriching himself from the $60 million that's been donated to his charity to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan (the truth is probably somewhere in between). I loved his books – I just didn't realize they were partly fiction – and even met him last year when he came to my daughters' school to speak.
Mortenson refused to be interviewed and looked like a deer in the headlights when 60 Minutes confronted him at one of his book signings – and then he snuck out the back door. He issued this lame statement before following up with a slightly less lame one (www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/MORTENSONSTATEMENT.PDF):
Afghanistan and Pakistan are fascinating, inspiring countries full of wonderful people. They are also complex places torn by conflicting loyalties and some who do not want our mission of educating girls to succeed. I stand by the information conveyed in my book and by the value of CAI's work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students. I continue to be heartened by the many messages of support I receive from our local partners in cities and villages across Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are determined not to let unjustified attacks stop the important work being done to create a better future for their children.
The board of his charity, The Central Asia Institute, also issued this statement: www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/CAIState.pdf
Jon Krakauer summarizes him well:
He's not Bernie Madoff. I mean, let's be clear. He has done a lot of good. He has helped thousands of school kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan....He has become perhaps the world's most effective spokesperson for girls' education in developing countries. And he deserves credit for that...Nevertheless, he is now threatening to bring it all down, to destroy all of it by this fraud and by these lies.
What could he have been thinking??? Sigh… Who's next? Mother Teresa???
You can watch the entire segment here: www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml