While it is true that Krakauer came to 60 Minutes with his concerns and suspicions about Mortenson, he had done no formal reporting on the story at that point, and had no intention of writing an article. Krakauer said his interest was personal and altruistic. He had known Mortensen for a long time, had donated a substantial amount of money to his cause, and felt strongly there was an important story here. We told Krakauer that if we were going to put anything on the air about Mortenson, we would need to report and verify every aspect of the story. We also made it clear that it could take months to dissect the finances of Mortenson’s charity, check out its schools, and find people who were willing to appear on camera. Krakauer agreed and offered to help us. The result was a seven-month investigation that proceeded on separate, but parallel tracks. In the end, Krakauer appeared as an on-camera source for our story and also decided to write his own long-form account, which appeared on Byliner.com shortly after the 60 Minutes story aired.
The reason it took so long to put this story together is because it was ground-breaking and complex, and we wanted to make sure we got it right. The segment 60 Minutes broadcast on April 17, 2011, was the product of more than 120 interviews conducted in eight languages.
We would have told CJR all of this if anybody from the magazine had contacted us.
Correspondent and Co-Editor
CBS News / 60 Minutes
New York, NY