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Sean Penn to '60 Minutes': I Saw Drug Lord as a Human Being

Image: Sean Penn to '60 Minutes': I Saw Drug Lord as a Human Being

By    |   Sunday, 17 Jan 2016 08:00 PM

By Greg Richter Actor Sean Penn says his Rolling Stone interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman ultimately failed because it didn't get people talking about the right things.

"We all want this drug problem to stop," Penn told Charlie Rose in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast on Sunday.

But few people on "the moral right, or on the far left" are discussing the problem of drug use in America "just as many of your children are doing these drugs, just as many of your brothers and sisters, your mothers and fathers, the teachers at school, are doing these drugs," he said.

As a result, Penn said, "My article failed."

Instead, the focus was on Penn's journalistic methods – he let Guzman have final say on whether the article could run – and on whether he played a role in the drug lord's capture.

Penn said he does "experiential journalism" and can only write on what he personally experienced with Guzman – not on the murders and corruption he is accused of. He said he leaves that to others.

He said his purpose was to talk to Guzman as a human being, "which everyone is."

Penn defended giving Guzman final approval on the article, saying that the drug lord did not have power to edit the story – only to approve it or disapprove it for publication.

"What was brokered for me to have the interview with El Chapo was that I would finish the article, send it to him, and if he said no, then that was no harm, no foul to any reader," Penn said. "It would never be printed."

As for those who say he's not a real journalist, Penn says, "Well, I want to see the license that says that they're a journalist."

Penn said he doesn't fear for his life amid claims by the Mexican government that his meeting helped lead to Guzman's capture. The government has been humiliated that Guzman has been able to escape prison twice and that Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo were able to find him before they could, he said.

"Do you believe that the Mexican government released this because they wanted to see you blamed, and to put you at risk?" Rose asked.

"Yes," Penn said.

"They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in their crosshairs?" Rose continued.

"Yes," Penn said.

But Penn said he has heard from no one in the cartel and assumes they likely understand what the government is doing, having dealt with them for decades.

It is possible, though, that someone "irrational" people in the cartel might decide to go after him.

Rose asked Penn if Guzman is overly demonized by the media.

"To over-demonize any human being is not in our best self interest," Penn said. "Like it or not, we're married to 'em. They're of our time. They're affecting us. So like a marriage, you know, you might want a divorce."

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Actor Sean Penn says his Rolling Stone interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman ultimately failed because it didn't get people talking about the...
penn, chapo, rolling, stone, human
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2016-00-17
Sunday, 17 Jan 2016 08:00 PM
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