The actor Sean Penn traveled to the jungle in Mexico to interview a Mexican drug lord named Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who had elaborately tunneled out of prison last summer. Mexican authorities have been hunting for the man better known as El Chapo ever since he escaped.
Penn's story appeared in Rolling Stone this week:
"I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men," Penn wrote. "But I'm in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true. As true as it is compartmentalized. The trust that El Chapo had extended to us was not to be fucked with. This will be the first interview El Chapo had ever granted outside an interrogation room, leaving me no precedent by which to measure the hazards."
The New York Times reported that Rolling Stone made a few concessions to El Chapo as an agreement to do the story:
"In a disclosure that ran with the story, Rolling Stone said it had changed some names and withheld some locations. An understanding was reached with Mr. Guzmán, it said, that the story would be submitted for his approval, but he did not request any changes."
This whole situation raises numerous questions:
• Should a journalist do a story with an escaped convict? Or do they have an obligation to provide location and other information to law enforcement?
• Should journalists make deals to get stories? Should the magazine have allowed El Chapo the ability to approve the story (or not)? Does the deal undermine the magazine's credibility?
• Why send an actor to do the interview? Shouldn't the interview have been performed by a more seasoned journalist who would have dug deeper into the story of El Chapo?
What do you think?
6 months ago