Gonzo Sean vs Real Journalists

The recent kerfuffle over Sean Penn’s execrably written bit of gonzo in Rolling Stone is illuminating.

“Real journalists” are all over Twitter attacking the article for its horrible prose and obvious lack of editorial oversight; both criticisms are more than valid. Sean needs to keep his day job and Jann Wenner should be glad he didn’t have to pay for the writing.

But what is also happening is something quite different from the expression of a professional’s justified disdain for a clumsy amateur’s foray into her area of expertise.

Penn is being accused of whitewashing El Chapo, of condoning murder, and of insulting the memory of those Mexican journalists who have died trying to expose the reality of the brutal drug lords and their ongoing war with the equally brutal US-backed Mexican state security forces.

This is coming from the keyboards of people whose jobs might better be described as “group think status quo government amanuensis” than anything implied by the phrase “real journalist”. What they are accusing Penn of is a failure to insist on highlighting El Chapo’s evil in spite of the fact that he makes it clear that that is exactly the sort of cartoon journalism he intends to confront by presenting El Chapo as a human being.

Not something “real journalists” are comfortable with, I guess.

And that is precisely how not to honor those who have died trying to expose the truth rather than resting content with the official version out of Washington or the DF.



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