Sean Penn’s Rolling Stone article recounting an in-person interview with infamous drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzman is exactly what you’d expect from a celebrity with no journalism training and 10,000 words with which to do as he pleases.
It’s a rambling mess, full of malapropisms Penn probably thought were colorful -- e.g., "My speculation goes audio" and "At this moment, I expel a minor traveler's flatulence (sorry)."
To Penn’s dismay, no one seems to be taking his views on the drug war seriously, focusing either on the article’s leaden prose or whether it was ethical of Rolling Stone to even publish the piece. The publication allowed Guzman to vet the final copy, although he reportedly did not ask for any changes.
"I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the war on drugs," Penn told CBS’s Charlie Rose in an interview scheduled to air Sunday.
"Whether you agree with Sean Penn or not, there is a complicity there, and if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs," the actor went on. "And how much time have they spent in the last week, since this article [came out], talking about that? One percent? I think that’d be generous."
The Mexican government has said Penn’s article helped lead to the drug kingpin being captured the day before Rolling Stone published the piece. Penn denied this, saying his meeting with Guzman occurred long before the arrest.
"There is this myth about the visit that we made -- my colleagues and I with El Chapo -- that it was, as the attorney general of Mexico is quoted, ‘essential’ to his capture," Penn said. "We had met with him many weeks earlier … on October 2, in a place nowhere near where he was captured."
Rose asked Penn whether he thought the Mexican government had credited him for the capture as a sort of retaliation for meeting with Guzman and embarrassing officials who had been looking for the man ever since his escape from a Mexican prison last year.
"Yes," he replied.
Does he fear for his life?
"No," Penn said.