‘Cartel’ Author Don Winslow Dismisses Sean Penn’s El Chapo Meditation As Anything ‘Except Journalism’

01.19.16 9 months ago

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The legend of Sean Penn, journalist, continues after fellow legend El Chapo landed in the slammer once again. Penn only wanted to enjoy some tasty waves and talk drug history with the Sinaloa kingpin, who has since been pictured standing in his prison cell. With any luck, officials are keeping the guy on an upper floor (in addition to moving him periodically) to avoid a tunnel reprise. In addition, Chapo is being heavily guarded by humans and dogs who monitor for his scent.

El Chapo shall remain imprisoned until his extradition to the U.S., which is an anti-climactic end to his outward reign. The master of evasion fell due to a combination of massive tacos, a pet monkey, and a crush on an actress. Sean Penn also played a role with clumsy maneuvering to achieve one farty Rolling Stone profile. Jeff Spicoli can’t make the connection, although he expressed “regret” for his “failed” article. He went gonzo and tried to be Hunter S. Thompson with something called “experiential journalism,” but Penn still threw blame elsewhere: “I’m really sad about the state of journalism in our country.” Journalists piled atop the Penn carcass, and now Cartel author Don Winslow pens a lengthy take down of Penn’s “journalism” for Deadline.

Winslow previously spoke with us about his fascinating obsession with the bribes and politics of the drug trade. He also pops into related border control discussions, but his specialty lies with the type of research Penn never considered. Winslow feels that Penn went (to put it mildly) soft. He framed El Chapo as a schoolboy-like doe, who was practically pushed into ruthlessly helming the drug trade after a rural upbringing. We learned nothing concrete about El Chapo from Penn’s 10,000+ words, and Penn asked no hard-hitting questions. Instead, we heard about how El Chapo loves his mom and finds pride in moving more meth, heroin, and cocaine than any other cartel. Winslow wants to know why the following questions weren’t asked:

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