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Sean Penn deserves praise for interviewing 'El Chapo'

Sean Penn deserves praise for interviewing 'El Chapo'
A woman reads a La Jornada newspaper in Mexico City on January 10 showing a picture of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman with Sean Penn. (Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: It's difficult to understand all the noise about Sean Penn's Rolling Stone interview with since-captured Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. If the same column had been written by a CNN or Fox News reporter, would it have provoked the same criticisms? ("For Sean Penn, El Chapo meeting is the latest turn in a complex career," Jan. 10)

Penn asked some fairly pointed questions, certainly better than most asked in the presidential debates. Guzman seemed to answer with unapologetic honesty.

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As to Penn's activism, it was hardly "liberal" for Penn to use his celebrity to call attention to those made homeless by the earthquake in Haiti any more than it was "liberal" for Fox News reporters to ask where was the government in New Orleans during the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I for one applaud Penn's efforts and his revealing column, which wasn't self-serving for Penn or his subject.

Michael Solomon, Canoga Park

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To the editor: Going down to Mexico to interview a man who has tormented and viciously ended countless lives so that we Americans can know just how messed up our own government is when it comes to really dealing with the supply and demand of the drug market is, in my opinion, pointless.

Penn accomplished basically nothing, largely because he didn't really break any new ground with his "interview." He didn't reveal anything most of us didn't already know.

And what was Penn hoping would come of it? Forgiveness for Mexican drug lords because they sate an American appetite? Does he want us to prosecute American officials for being hypocrites? Does Penn himself know what he wants?

This was all about Penn. He ought to grow up — he'll make a fine adult someday.

Arthur G. Saginian, Santa Clarita

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To the editor: There are many reasons, cited by journalism experts, not to read Penn's Rolling Stone interview with Guzman. They say his writing isn't good and that his ego gets in the way of good journalism.

Also, the editors at Rolling Stone didn't do their job by allowing Penn's subject to approve the article before he went ahead with it. These are all excellent and compelling reasons not to bother reading this highly publicized interview.

My reason for not reading it is quite different. I'm not the least bit interested in reading an article that glorifies a drug kingpin and murderer whose business ruins and takes the lives of others.

Susan Schless, Northridge

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To the editor: In some ways, Penn is much like the "daring young man on the flying trapeze."

But by risking his own life to interview Guzman — while on the lam after his second prison escape — and get the story of a lifetime, in my opinion Penn has demonstrated true grit.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater, Fla.

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