CAI Cofounder Mortenson confronts allegations Tuesday on TODAY Show  


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Humanitarian and author Greg Mortenson will tell his side of the story in an exclusive interview with veteran newsman Tom Brokaw set to air Tuesday morning, Jan. 21, on NBC's TODAY ShowThe interview is scheduled to air in the 7 a.m. hour (MST).

Greg Mortenson interviews with Tom Brokaw. (Photo: NBC News)


 This is Mortenson's first interview in 33 months, since a CBS 60 Minutes report in April 2011 accused Mortenson of fabrications in his book and mismanagement at Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit organization he cofounded in 1996.


Mortenson sat down with Brokaw in New York City earlier this month for a 75-minute taped interview, which NBC has edited to a much shorter segment. Their discussion ranged from the media allegations about the book and CAI to his health, how he and his family have handled the fallout, and his ideas going forward.  

Mortenson gives Balti schoolgirls an English lesson in June 2013. 
(Photo: Erik Petersen)


 Mortenson, 56, told Brokaw that the stories in his book happened, although not always in the sequence or timing presented, according to an NBC press release.  He also acknowledged that he ignored admonitions to slow down amid CAI's rapid growth after Three Cups of Tea was published, and that he's going to try as hard as he can to never make the same mistakes again.


"It still just has puzzled me and why there wasn't, at some point, in your mind, an alarm that went off and said, 'This just isn't right in some way,'" Brokaw asked in the interview, according to NBC.


"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."


The televised accusations in 2011 led to a state inquiry and a purported class-action lawsuit - both of which have been successfully resolved for the Bozeman-based CAI. The Montana Attorney General's inquiry concluded in April 2012. Also that month, U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Haddon dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit against Mortenson, CAI, and other defendants, calling it "flimsy, speculative and without merit." The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld that ruling in October 2013. [For more background, see links below.]


CAI Executive Director David Starnes said Saturday, "We are pleased that after resolution of legal and health-related issues Greg was able to sit down with someone of Tom Brokaw's stature, someone who represents that level of public trust, and share his thoughts, reflections, and experiences."


CAI Executive Director David Starnes and Greg Mortenson en route to visit a school in the Hushe Valley, Pakistan, in June 2013.
(Photo: Erik Petersen) 
Brokaw, who frequently retreats with his wife Meredith to their West Boulder ranch near McLeod, Mont., is now a special correspondent and analyst for NBC News. He has worked for the network since 1966 as a correspondent, Today Show anchor,  NBC Nightly News managing editor and anchor, Meet the Press anchor, and documentarian. He is also the author or coauthor of numerous nonfiction books. His honorary degrees include one from Montana State University in Bozeman.


 "This interview presents a tremendous opportunity to look forward and continue the mission that has brought education to many thousands of young women in this difficult part of the world," CAI Board Chairman Steve Barrett said. "With political turmoil and domestic terrorism in Pakistan on the rise, and the US troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that will affect stability and peace, our mission to educate girls and empower women is more timely and important than ever."  


Mortenson said he is particularly grateful for the continued support he has received since 2011. 

Greg Mortenson greets old and new friends in Chapurson Valley, northern Pakistan, June 2013. (Photo: Erik Petersen)


"Most of all, I would like to thank our supporters and our resilient staff for their incredible support, and especially for the outpouring of love and kindness to my family since April 2011," he said.  


Since its inception, CAI has established 191 schools, and significantly supports more than 100 others, primarily in remote areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. In addition, CAI has nearly 100 other projects, including scholarships, women's literacy and vocational centers, teacher training and health education programs.  

Read more about the topics covered in the interview:

TODAY Show press release / January 2014:

9th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds lawsuit dismissal / October 2013:

Starnes comes on board / February 2013:

New CAI board of directors: August 2012:

Federal judge in Great Falls dismisses lawsuit with prejudice / April 2012:

Montana Attorney General's Office investigation concluded / April 2012:

CAI Master Project List:




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