After initial reports indicated Sean Penn had no regrets about interviewing drug lord El Chapo, the actor and director revealed his bitterness over the reception of his Rolling Stone article. “My article failed,” he told Charlie Rose.
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was the subject of Penn’s recent journalistic venture, but he told Rose the public’s reaction to the article “ignores its purpose.” The interview is set to air in full on 60 Minutes on Sunday, and it will also air on The Charlie Rose Show on Monday.
Recounting what Sean Penn told the Associated Press days earlier — that he had no regrets — Rose asked him if he still felt that way.
“I have a terrible regret,” Penn told Rose. “I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to contribute to this conversation on the war on drugs.”
The question of regret stemmed from the obvious possible legal ramifications that come with interviewing one of the most wanted prison escapees in history, but it also came from general dismay that Sean Penn handed over his article to El Chapo for final approval.
Rolling Stone called the condition a “small price to pay” for running the story. Penn, on the other hand, answered Rose’s question with a change of direction. He focused on the reaction to his article rather than how he carried out its production.
“Let’s go to the big picture of what we all want,” Penn said. “We all want this drug problem to stop. We all want them – the killings in Chicago – to stop. We are the consumer,” Penn argued, adding, “and if you are in the moral right, or on the far left, just as many of your children are doing these drugs.”
“And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article came out, talking about that?” Penn continued. “One percent? I think that’d be generous,” he said, before bringing his remarks back full circle.
“My article failed,” Penn said. “Let me be clear. My article has failed.”
Sean Penn also combated claims about his article made by both the Mexican government and El Chapo’s lawyers.
Mexican authorities say Penn’s secret meeting with El Chapo, which was planned by actress Kate del Castillo, gave them the information they needed to capture the Sinaloa cartel head. Penn called that a “myth,” suspecting the government was trying to intimidate cartel members.
“We had met with [El Chapo] many weeks earlier on October 2nd in a place nowhere near where he was captured,” Penn said. “We’re not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican Intelligence. We had a contact upon which we could facilitate an invitation.”
Penn’s piece also contains an apparent admission from El Chapo about his drug trafficking. “I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats,” he reportedly said. An attorney for El Chapo is calling for Sean Penn to testify in court over the quotation.
“It’s a lie, absurd speculation from Mr Penn,” lawyer Juan Pablo Badillo toldReuters. “Mr. Penn should be called to testify to respond about the stupidities he has said.” He added, “Where’s the proof? Where’s the audio?”
Although there is a 17 minute video of some of El Chapo’s answers to Penn’s questions, much of their correspondence was not in person or recorded, including the aforementioned admission. Sean Penn reportedly used encrypted Blackberry messengers and other communications.
Watch the 17 minute video of El Chapo’s video for Sean Penn below: