Greg Mortenson speaks out in first interview since '60 Minutes' exposé
'Three Cups of Tea' author Mortenson was recently interviewed on NBC's 'Today Show,' the first such interview he has done since '60 Minutes' aired an exposé in 2011 alleging that he had fabricated parts of his memoir and that funds from his charity were being misspent.
In his first interview since “60 Minutes” aired a 2011 exposé alleging fabrication in “Three Cups of Tea,” author Greg Mortenson appeared on NBC’s "Today Show" Tuesday admitting that he ignored concerns about fraud in his bestselling memoir and thanking the investigators who brought the allegations to light.Skip to next paragraph
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Since the 2011 investigation, Mortenson has admitted that events in the book did not occur in the sequence presented. In 2012, he was also ordered to return $1 million to the charity he created as part of a settlement over the mishandling of funds.
“It still has puzzled me and why there wasn’t, at some point, in your mind, an alarm that went off and said, ‘This isn’t right in some way,'” Tom Brokaw said in the interview.
“There were alarms, Tom,” Mortenson said. “I didn’t listen to them. I was willing to basically kill myself to raise money and help the projects.”
In “Three Cups of Tea,” Mortenson, with co-author David Oliver Relin, recounted his failed attempt to climb K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain in the Himalayas. When he stumbled, sick and exhausted, into the Pakistani village of Korphe and was nursed back to health, he vowed to repay the good deed by building a school. That led to the foundation of an ambitious nonprofit organization, the Central Asia Institute, and a follow-up memoir in 2009, “Stones Into Schools."
But in 2011, friend and fellow adventurer and author Jon Krakauer tipped CBS into investigating Mortenson’s book and charity. The investigation found key parts of the book were inaccurate and that charity funds were being misspent. CBS found that “nearly 30 of the 54 schools Mortenson’s charity built in Afghanistan … were empty, built by someone else, or not receiving support,” according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.