on the deceptions of Greg Mortenson:
This sort of thing just mystifies me. I have nightmares where a false story has gotten into one of my stories by accident; I wake up with a sick start, and the relief when I realize that it was just a dream is sweet indeed. I cannot imagine the thought process that would lead you to do this on purpose. Leave aside the morality of it for the nonce--aren't people afraid of getting caught? In this day and age, how can you hope to get away with passing off a photo of an Islamabad think-tanker as a terrorist who kidnapped you?
Basically. I think lying on the level that Mortenson was, or even at a Jason Blair/Stephen Glass level, requires a kind of moral calculus which I've never completely understood. I'm an honest reporter, but fact-check still scares the fuck out of me. And this is as it should be. It's good to be scared.
It also seems like Mortenson didn't actually need to lie. He just kinda did.
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power