'Three Cups of Tea' controversy
Media critic Eric Deggans notes on his blog today that it was sobering and sad to see a 60 Minutes report that the legendary story in bestseller Three Cups of Tea is more like a fairytale. And the money so many kids around the country have raised (including mine) for the Pennies for Peace program? Well, that's become like a personal ATM for the author, the broadcast alleges.
In a detailed report, Steve Kroft spells out how much of that original story was untrue, possibly invented by author Greg Mortenson to burnish his legend and sell books. The charity that followed the books provides funds to cover expenses stemming from his book tours and paid speeches, even though none of the revenue from those activities goes to the charity.
The show also traveled to Afghanistan to check on the status of several schools Mortensen said he built or helped, only to find some of them had not received aid in years, or were not even using the structures as schools.
If true, this is wrong on so many levels. My kids collected for the Pennies for Peace program and felt great about contributing toward world peace by building schools in Afghanistan. To find out that money went toward First Class air fare for his book signings has me outraged.
The saddest part was the one commentator on the broadcast who said there's no doubt Mortensen has done good in the world, but these side lies and shifty ways threaten to bring down all of that and more.
I expect a lot of kids this week are going to be saddened and disillusioned by this news. I hope we haven't created another wave of little cynics.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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