The Chron’s editorial page yesterday included a letter from actor Sean Penn of Marin County who was upset by a humorous article by Peter Hartlaub on celebrity interest in Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Penn, who went to Iran in 2005 for the Chronicle, called the paper “increasingly lame-brain paper.”

Penn objected to the Chron’s use of the word “dictator” to describe Chavez, who Penn points out was democratically elected. The AP said Chron Editor Phil Bronstein took the criticism in stride, calling Penn, “a great actor and a great director.”

“People get riled up about a lot of things, particularly in this day and age; they get to express themselves. We were more than happy to print his letter,” Bronstein said.

SF Press Club News


  1. Penn wields a sharp pen.

    I found Penn’s letter well-reasoned, informative, and appropriately passionate.

    I have been flabbergasted by the poorly disguised way the San Francisco Chronicle routinely promotes propaganda and snipes at anyone who challenges its corporate and anti-labor worldview.

    If it hasn’t yet, it is likely just a matter of time before the failing newspaper runs a caption contest or couches some spurious distortion in a serious article to malign Penn as a radical hothead or “un-American”. I further don’t expect the paper to be accepting many of Penn’s letters in the future.

    Am I too harsh? Look what the Chronicle has been doing to Cindy Sheehan and her independent campaign for Congress against Nancy Pelosi:

    The Chronicle (and many others, who routinely, like sleepwalkers, follow the Chronicle’s editorial lead) recently failed to cover this significant event in San Francisco:

    I attended it and wrote about it as a citizen journalist because I already anticipated the corporate media blackout. When I listened to Sheehan, I never felt prouder: she is doing the greatest service to our country which is defending the Constitution.

    Penn also cares deeply about what really matters. I seldom go to movies, and know little more about him than that he is a famous actor and director, but I was very impressed with him after reading his letter.

  2. It’s hard to understand Penn’s rambling letter (thanks for linking to it), but I guess he’s saying that you can’t call somebody a dictator if they win one election. The old Soviet Union had elections too, and turnout was something like 90 percent. But there was only one person on the ballot for each job. I guess that’s Penn’s idea of democracy. It’s amazing that Bronstein would ever hire this guy to write for the Chronicle.

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