Sean Penn on his El Chapo interview: “My article has failed”

In the wake of his controversial Rolling Stone interview with Mexican drug lord El Chapo, Sean Penn is finally breaking his silence in an interview with Charlie Rose for “60 Minutes.” The full segment, which is set to air on CBS on Sunday night (Jan. 17), discusses both his meeting with the infamous cartel boss and the subsequent magazine cover story.

“I have a terrible regret,” Penn says in the interview. “I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the war on drugs.”

The media’s reaction to the article has largely focused on how Penn managed to contact El Chapo, at the time a fugitive from Mexican authorities, as well as the mechanics of Penn’s foray into journalism. Some in the media have also questioned Rolling Stone’s decision to allow the drug lord final approval over the story before it was published.

Penn told Charlie Rose that he was deeply disappointed with the coverage of his piece. “My article failed,” he said. “Let me be clear. My article has failed.”

El Chapo was arrested by Mexican law enforcement on Jan. 8, six months after escaping a maximum security prison through an underground tunnel. Penn’s article was published the next day, and Mexican officials said his meeting with the drug lord was instrumental to their operation to recapture him.

Penn denied this claim in the “60 Minutes” interview, saying he had met with El Chapo in October, months before his arrest. The actor also suggested the Mexican government made the claim out of embarrassment.

“We know that the Mexican government, they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did,” he said. “Well, nobody found him before they did.”

Rose asked Penn if he believes the Mexican government intentionally put him in harm’s way by making that claim:

Rose: Do you believe that the Mexican government released this in part because they wanted to see you blamed and to put you at risk?

Penn: Yes.

Rose: They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in their crosshairs?

Penn: Yes.

Rose: Are you fearful for your life?

Penn: No.

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