A couple of days ago I stumbled upon another sign of the times. Major headlines reporting that Sean Penn has become a…drum roll please…reporter! Yes folks, Sean has been credentialed by the San Francisco Chronicle to fly off to Iran to report on their presidential election. Being the News
Seriously now, what qualifies Mr. Penn for this assignment? I’ll give him credit for being a reasonable actor, just as I’ll acknowledge that Bahbwah Streisand is a reasonably good singer—I remember sipping a lot of scotch and sodas in Chicago bars back in the ‘60s listening to her wailing about people who need people. But, neither Penn nor Babs seem to have any particular qualification for reporting on political issues. No journalism degrees, no apprenticeship at the feet of Woodward and Bernstein, no graduate work at Yale or Harvard, essentially nothing to qualify them but public recognition.
But I try to be fair. I went right to the web pages of the San Francisco Chronicle to view the dispatches from Teheran that Sean was publishing. Alas, no hits on the Sean Penn byline. There are articles covering his visit to Friday evening prayers with the mullahs and ayatollahs. The usual chants of Death to the Great Satan and Death to America reverberating through the mosque probably made Sean feel really good about his contributions to world peace. But, he wasn’t reporting. He was the news.
He did get to demonstrate his grasp of international relations three days later, on the following Monday, when he cautioned that orchestrating mass exhortations to kill America was probably not conducive to improving the climate between the countries. Still, no report from Sean. This was coverage by other reporters watching Sean play reporter without reports.
Next item to hit the wires is Penn having his camera temporarily confiscated. Isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron? If something is confiscated you usually consider it a permanent thing. Still and again, he is the news not the news reporter. I wait with bated breath for the eventual journal from the great journalist to appear in print. Somehow I don’t think it’s going to happen.
I wonder if any newspaper out there would like to send me on an all-expense paid trip for several months to cover Europe and the various elections disapproving the proposed constitution. There are some places in Spain, Italy, England, Germany, France, Greece, Portugal, etc. that I’d sure like to visit again. And, I’m at least as well qualified as Sean Penn.