Sean Penn Says His El Chapo Interview "Failed"

By McCarton Ackerman 01/15/16

The actor lamented his failure to spark a national conversation.

Sean Penn

Sean Penn has surprisingly declared that his Rolling Stone interview with El Chapo “failed” because it didn’t spark a national conversation about the War on Drugs. He made the comment during an interview on Sunday with 60 Minutes.

Speaking with Charlie Rose, Penn said he wanted his interview with El Chapo to “try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the War on Drugs.” He adds that he had hoped to spark a conversation about the rising rate of addiction in the United States, and “the killings in Chicago,” a reference to ongoing turf wars between drug gangs. But Penn laments that the bulk of the news outlets didn’t touch on these issues, instead only focusing on the sensationalized aspects of his interview.

“We all want this drug problem to stop. We all want them—the killings in Chicago to stop," said Penn. "We are the consumer. 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 ... 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." He then told Rose that as a result, “my article failed.”

Penn also spoke out against the “jealous journalists” who criticized him and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner for giving El Chapo “story approval,” meaning they allowed him to review the article and potentially make changes before it went live. Referring to them as “green-eyed monsters,” the actor chalked up the reporters against him to “people who don’t like me out of the gate.” Penn also insisted he was only able to get the interview with El Chapo because he isn’t a journalist, adding the drug kingpin would have probably refused to talk to a real reporter.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.