Sean Penn‘s really long Rolling Stone article about meeting with and interviewing the drug lord known as El Chapo got a lot of news coverage. But it was all wrong, according to Penn. In a talk with Charlie Rose, Penn said his article “failed.” Penn had hoped to highlight the basic supply and demand problem that drives the drug trade — and to point out that you can kill El Chapo ten times but another El Chapo will always replace him. Doctors who treat symptoms but not the disease don’t ultimately help their patients. Drug wars that kill drug lords but don’t address the demand side don’t help their countries.
“We’re going to put all our focus, all our energy, all our billions of dollars on the bad guy, and what happens? You get another death the next day the same way,” Penn said in excerpts from the interview released by CBS. Fact is — as any business will prove — that if there’s no demand there’s no business. And El Chapo was in business to service a monstrous demand, largely in the US. The Rose-Penn interview will air on 60 Minutes on Sunday.