By JULIE BOSMAN in The New York Times
“Greg Mortenson’s work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education,” Carolyn Coleburn, a spokeswoman for Viking, said in a statement. “ ‘60 Minutes’ is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author.”
The statement was a strong signal that Viking, an imprint of Penguin, is not convinced of the accuracy of Mr. Mortenson’s book. In several high-profile cases in recent years, publishers of nonfiction have been forced to retract or apologize for memoirs that have been found to be partially or totally fabricated.
A report on “60 Minutes” on Sunday questioned a central anecdote of “Three Cups of Tea”: in 1993, Mr. Mortenson stumbled across the small village of Korphe in northeast Pakistan after failing to summit K2, the world’s second-highest mountain. Mr. Mortenson wrote in the book that after the villagers there nursed him back to health, he vowed to return and build a school.
Mr. Mortenson has defended the information in the book, but has also said that it was based on a “compressed version of events.”
The CBS report also suggested that Mr. Mortenson’s charitable organization, the Central Asia Institute, was plagued by mismanagement and inappropriate spending.