Sean Penn wasn’t the only person who had the chance to interview El Chapo.
Univision’s Gerardo Reyes, director of Univision’s investigative unit, wrote Jan. 19 that back in 2013, he had the same opportunity to interview the Mexican drug kingpin — with the same restrictions requiring El Chapo get prior approval before publication — but that Univision refused El Chapo’s conditions.
In an article for the Washington Post, “Why I turned down an interview with ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán,” Reyes explained “In accepting our interview request, Guzmán had made a request of his own: everything that made it to air would have to be approved by him.” Unlike Penn and Rolling Stone, Univision said no.
Reyes said the offer was “tempting” but after talking about it with Univision’s vice president of news Daniel Coronell the pair “quickly came to the conclusion that we could not subject our work to revisions by the subject of our reporting.”
“We sent that message to Guzmán and essentially turned down an interview with the world’s most wanted and perhaps powerful fugitive,” Reyes reported. Univision still aired an investigation Reyes reported about El Chapo in November 2013 just without any interview.
Coronell wrote on Univision’s website that it told El Chapo: “Univision’s policy establishes that once an interview is over, the respondent cannot make changes to its content nor define what should or should not be used from his statements. The selection of his statements for the final product is the responsibility of Univision and that selection is made following the highest professional journalistic criteria such as balance, relevance and respect for the meaning of such statements.”
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This past year, the opportunity to interview came up again, but El Chapo wanted the interview taped with his own video recorders. Univision pushed back, Reyes wrote, saying they “insisted on a Univision crew producing the interview without editorial restrictions.”
Univision never ended up getting an interview with El Chapo, even though Sean Penn did. Reyes wrote, “I never regretted rejecting Guzman’s conditions because I knew the capo would omit so much, especially his role in Mexico’s violent drug wars.”
iMediaEthics has written to Univision to ask more about El Chapo’s requests.