Mortensen on the defense?

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Doug Shaw
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Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Doug Shaw » Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:14 pm

60 Minutes tonight investigates Greg Mortensen and the Central Asia Institute. I found his books Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools inspirational and uplifting - and this from someone who is a dyed-in-the-wool cynic!

Now there's word it could all be based on lies. I hope not...

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby jimlup » Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:21 pm

This is going to run tonight (4-16) on Sixty Minutes isn't it? Should be an interesting watch.
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Jon Frohlich
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Jon Frohlich » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:05 pm

I never read Stones Into Schools but while much of Three Cups of Tea was inspiring there were many things about it that always rubbed me the wrong way. The writing was pretty bad and his attitude towards his family just didn't sit well with me. He seemed to be an absentee father to his own kids. I'll be interested to see how he defends what 60 Minutes apparently found out.
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby bckcntryskr » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:57 pm

interesting indeed. He does look guilty of fabricating some of his story and financials. Krakauer seemed on point and not vindictive. I would say that Morty has some explaining to do.
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Doug Shaw
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Doug Shaw » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:27 pm

For those interested, the video is online:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363068n

The book-signing ambush was a bit uncalled for. If Mortensen doesn't to respond to the allegations, simply say that and let that fact speak for itself. If enough public pressure mounts, he will be forced to respond. Michael Moore-style ambush journalism seems amateurish and unprofessional, seemingly out of place on a purportedly respectable news outlet like 60 Minutes (although to be fair, I never watch it ... so maybe this is SOP for them now?)

I do agree with bckcntryskr - Krakauer does not seem angry or vindictive. He even makes the point in the interview: Mortensen has unquestionably done a lot of good, but he's threatening to destroy it all with these [alleged] fabrications and elaborations.
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Sandia Hiker » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:41 pm

"The book-signing ambush was a bit uncalled for. If Mortensen doesn't to respond to the allegations, simply say that and let that fact speak for itself. If enough public pressure mounts, he will be forced to respond. Michael Moore-style ambush journalism seems amateurish and unprofessional, seemingly out of place on a purportedly respectable news outlet like 60 Minutes (although to be fair, I never watch it ... so maybe this is SOP for them now?)"


If it did not involve millions of dollars with strong accusations of misuse, they could have let it slide. I think it forces him to respond and defend himself, or let the light shine onto his activities. While not proof, his abrupt departure makes me think there is more than a hint of truth.
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Doug Shaw » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:16 am

Sandia Hiker wrote:If it did not involve millions of dollars with strong accusations of misuse, they could have let it slide. I think it forces him to respond and defend himself, or let the light shine onto his activities. While not proof, his abrupt departure makes me think there is more than a hint of truth.


I never suggested letting anything slide, I simply said that the way they went about blindsiding Mortensen seemed unprofessional.

Blindsiding someone in a situation where they are not prepared to address your accusations is not a good way to "let the light shine onto his activities," it is the way to catch your target off-guard and make them do or say something unplanned that you might be able to use as a headline-worthy soundbite. Do you really believe that with effectively no notice he would be prepared to address their criticisms there on the floor of a book signing? "Oh, sure, I have CAI's books right here with me, let me tell you about that money and the schools you can't find."

If the allegations are legitimate and as incriminating as they seem, then they will be able to stand even while giving him an organized and controlled opportunity to respond. And as I said in my earlier post, if he chooses not to respond, then simply saying "Greg Mortensen declined to respond to our request for an interview" makes their point sufficiently while maintaining an air of professionalism.

Remember, this is not a court of law where he can decline to incriminate himself, it is the court of public opinion... he will have no choice but to respond to these accusations eventually. Unfortunately for "60 Minutes", "eventually" isn't soon enough when they need to get some sensationalized footage before their broadcast deadline.
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby WI Lou » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:36 am

Greg Mortenson has a response in the Bozeman newspaper. http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/article_4d3125cc-67d7-11e0-b861-001cc4c002e0.html
The CAI board has also responded. I didn't see the 60 Minutes segment but will reserve judgement until the facts are known. I found both Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools to be very inspirational and will continue to support the Central Asia Institute.
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Mooney Pilot
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Mooney Pilot » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:27 am

I was so inspired by "Three Cups of Tea" that I did a program, complete with a slide show presentation, to my local Rotary Club about it.

This all makes me feel very sad and very foolish.
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby TomPierce » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:01 am

I agree with Doug that the ambush interview style is a bit much, but I noted that the initial 60 minutes letter to him was dated September 14 of last year. He was obviously on notice for months that 60 minutes was investigating. And Croft said they'd been looking for a response for weeks prior to the airing. His non-responsiveness did him no good, and now his belated response is pretty lean on details. The fact that they spend more on "outreach" than in actually building schools is pretty galling to me. Just my opnions.
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Doug Shaw
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Re: Mortensen on the defense?

Postby Doug Shaw » Mon May 02, 2011 11:00 pm

Here's Mortensen's interview with Outside. Sounds like he is basically claiming that his coauthor David Relin employed some heavy artistic license with the stories that Mortensen provided. In the past Relin has claimed that he wrote Three Cups of Tea and that Mortensen was listed as a coauthor over his objections.

Mortensen's climbing partner from the aborted attempt on K2, whose conversations with Krakauer cast an initial cloud of suspicion over the veracity of the story that set the stage for the entire saga, now weighs in on the side of CAI and Greg Mortensen.

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