UPDATE FRIDAY MORNING as CBS This Morning rolled out more of the interview:
Sean Penn’s interview with the drug dealer Rolling Stone magazine called “the most wanted man in the world” was published with this preface:
Disclosure: Some names have had to be changed, locations not named, and an understanding was brokered with the subject that this piece would be submitted for the subject’s approval before publication. The subject did not ask for any changes.
Penn told Charlie Rose in an interview conducted Thursday night the approval deal was a small price to pay for the interview with the drug lord known as El Chapo. “When you get the story that every journalist in the world wanted, there’s a lot of green-eyed monsters who are going to come give you a kiss,” he said. Rose clarified Penn was referring to jealous journalists.
‘When you get the story that every journalist in the world wanted, there’s a lot of green-eyed monsters who are going to come give you a kiss.’ – Sean Penn
Rose made a point of adding that “the idea of going into the mountains to meet someone as notorious, someone who has the record – the violence, the brutality – of El Chapo, is an extraordinary risk to take on [Penn’s] part. And he had to have some courage to do that…He thought it was worthwhile…he thought…that this was an opportunity for him to do something that few people could do. And, on that, he’s right.”
Previous: In an interview with Charlie Rose, Sean Penn says he regrets his Rolling Stone interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera, aka El Chapo, did not achieve his intended purpose, which was to begin a national conversation about the way this country is conducting its war on drugs. But, he said, he has no regrets about sitting down with El Chapo.
Rose interviewed Penn Thursday night in Santa Monica. Parts of it also will be shown Friday on CBS’s evening newscast, on Sunday newsmag 60 Minutes, and in its entirety on Rose’s PBS program.
On CBS This Morning, Rose said Penn did the interview with him to “clarify his involvement in El Chapo’s capture,” after Mexican authorities claimed that knowledge of his trip helped them move in on Guzmán. Penn “believes those claims…are incorrect and could put him in danger,” Rose said.
CBS News reported yesterday that “the trail for Guzman had gone cold until telecommunication intercepts — along with Penna and Castillo’s travel to meet El Chapo — helped U.S. and Mexican law enforcement narrow down the drug lord’s location.” Rose asked if, as far as Penn knows, he had anything to do with the fugitive’s recapture. The film star/citizen journalist dismissed “this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I, that it was….essential to his capture…We had met with him many weeks ago, on October 2. In a place nowhere near where he was captured.”
Penn said he believed the Mexican government released its statement in part because they wanted to put him at risk. “We know the Mexican government, they clearly were humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did,” Penn conjectured. “Nobody found him before they did. We are not smarter than the DEA, or Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation.” (It previously has been reported Penn’s contact with Guzman was facilitated by actress Kate del Castillo.)
“They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in their crosshairs?” Rose asked.
“Yes,” Penn reiterated.
‘I have a terrible regret that the entire discussion abut this [Rolling Stone] article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy to the war on drugs.’ – Sean Penn
Nevertheless, Penn insisted he was not fearful for his life. Earlier he told the Associated Press that he has no regrets about meeting with Guzman. His sole intent in doing the interview, he insisted, was to “begin a conversation about the policy on the war on drugs. That was my simple idea,” Penn told Rose. “We’re going to put all our focus – forget about blame – all our focus, all our energy, all our billions of dollars, on the bad guy. And, what happens? You get another death the next day.
“I have a terrible regret…that the entire discussion abut this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy to the war on drugs,” Penn countered. “Let’s go to the big picture of what we all want. We all want this drug problem to stop. We all wants the killings in Chicago to stop. We are the consumer. Whether you agree with Sean Penn or not, there is a complicity there. And [whether] 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? One percent? My article has failed. Let me be clear, my article has failed.”
Rose flew to Los Angeles earlier this week, appearing at TCA determined to plant his flag in the Penn story. “I went to see [Penn] last night soon after I arrived, and I’m planning to interview him about his experience, and look forward to that as soon as all the things can be worked out. I have a thousand questions for Sean and all the people involved in this,” Rose told journalists during the CBS News panel at TCA.
The journalists in the room had a thousand questions too, for Rose – which Rose declined to answer, understandably not wanting to do anything to scuttle the deal, since the full interview hadn’t happened yet. Among the non-answered questions were his thoughts about Guzman’s recent capture, whether Penn should have alerted authorities as to the drug kingpin’s whereabouts, etc.
“I can’t speak to it and will not speak to it at this time, but I’m really looking forward to it,” Rose said, maddeningly, in answer to one such question.
Penn interviewed El Chapo over seven hours in person, with follow-ups via video and phone, starting last October while his subject was on the lam. It was the second time Guzmán had escaped jail. He was captured again last week after a gun battle.