Sean Penn's 'terrible regret' about his 'failed' El Chapo article: No new debate about War on Drugs

Sean Penn's 'terrible regret' about his 'failed' El Chapo article: No new debate about War on Drugs
Sean Penn, right, tells Charlie Rose that he has a "terrible regret" about his interview with then-fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. (CBS News / "60 Minutes")

Sean Penn says his recent Rolling Stone article about Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman — based on an interview with the fugitive drug lord who was recaptured last week — was a complete failure.

"I thought, this is somebody upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs," Penn tells Charlie Rose in an interview that will air on "60 Minutes" on Sunday. "That was my simple idea."

Now, the Oscar winner tells Rose, "I have a terrible regret. I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute this discussion about the policy in the war on drugs."

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Penn's journalistic effort wound up being an afterthought to news of El Chapo's capture on Jan. 8, one day before the story was published, and the Mexican government declared that the sit-down, which happened in early October of last year after weeks of clandestine planning, was crucial to the arrest.

In the piece, the actor decried the polices of the War on Drugs and declared the American public complicit in the problem of illegal narcotics. Oh, yeah, he also talked about El Chapo.

"There is no question in my mind but that the DEA and the Mexican government are tracking our movements," he wrote in the article as he described the clandestine steps that were taken to get to El Chapo in person, but he essentially tells Rose that the sit-down had no role in the capture.

"Here's the things that we know. We know that the Mexican government, they were very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did. Well, nobody found him before they did. We're not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence. We had a contact" — Mexican film and TV star Kate del Castillo — "upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation."

While he agrees with Rose's suggestions that the Mexican government released its statement in part to see him blamed and to put him at risk, in the cartel's "cross hairs," Penn says he isn't afraid for his life.

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"We all want this drug problem to stop," Penn says, revisiting a concept floated in the magazine. "We all want the killings in Chicago to stop. 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. Just as many.

"And how much time have they spent in the last week since this article came out, talking about that?," the actor says.

Mission, apparently, not accomplished.

"My article failed," he says. "Let me be clear: My article has failed."

Follow Christie D'Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ and Google+. Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter @LATcelebs.


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