Monday, April 18, 2011

CBS News raises questions about Mortenson and CAI

Last year, Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea (link to my GoodReads review; I had a good impression at the time, though I was not particularly thrilled about the book. Not the best written thing I have ever read), came to the UT Tyler campus. I suppose like many folks who listened to the guy, who seems a lot better as a speaker than a writer, I did find the story inspiring. So I find it disappointing to say the least that he is being exposed for lies in the book as well as financial issues, such as money from the book and his book touring not really going to the CAI charity like he claims. That I find particularly egregious since a big part of his speech was promoting how the book helps the organization so they can build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Jon Krakauer, an early supporter, probably summarizes this pretty well (maybe a bit more charitable than others may be willing to be) when he says,

"Krakauer: 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."

Sadly, this is not just about some good guy with a few character flaws. These are serious issues, and what seemed like good acts are now going to be tainted. Worse, from the report, it seems the acts were not that great anyhow (schools claimed to be build but not built, or built poorly, for instance). 

You can read the expose from CBS news here.

Update note (same day): Galley Cat has a summary. It also includes links to statements by Mortenson and CAI that they sent to CBS regarding the 60 Minutes segment. 

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