Greg Mortenson Steps (Back) Into the Spotlight

The embattled philanthropist speaks out for the first time in years about his own public takedown and the discredited bestseller Three Cups of Tea.

Greg Mortenson Three Cups of Tea Books

Greg Mortenson signing books in a bookstore. In 2011, 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer aired and published reports showing that Three Cups of Tea contained numerous fabrications.     Photo: Paulsims/Flickr

It’s been a long time since Greg Mortenson was a public figure who was routinely seen or heard in public—April 2011, to be precise—but that changes starting tomorrow, when Mortenson will appear on "The Today Show," during a pre-recorded talk with Tom Brokaw that airs at 7:40 A.M. in all time zones.

Mortenson's re-emergence has not generated anything approaching the pre-game hype that accompanied Lance Armstrong when he submitted to a grilling by Oprah Winfrey in January 2013, but this conversation bears watching nontheless. A great deal has happened since the spring of 2011, when Mortenson and his charitable group, the Central Asia Institute, were hit by a twin-tipped rocket: Jon Krakauer's mammoth investigation for Byliner, alleging everything from literary fabrications to fiduciary malpractice, and a report on "60 Minutes" that hammered home the same damning messages in primetime.

After giving interviews to Outside and a Montana newspaper, Mortenson went away, silent and deep. Over the next few years, he and CAI were hit with a class-action lawsuit by disgruntled purchasers of his two memoirs (a case that two judges have thrown out), were investigated and severely disciplined by the State Attorney General of Montana, and lived through a dark tragedy—the suicide of Mortenson's co-author on Three Cups of Tea, David Oliver Relin.

In short, there's a lot to talk about. For a quick refresher course on Outside's extensive coverage of the Mortenson case, see the following round-up.

More Greg Mortenson Coverage

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