Those comments from Penn were prompted by co-host Harry Smith wondering: "People would be curious why you went in the first place. And then, why you stayed. What's the best answer for that?" Penn replied: "...if they're wondering that, then that would be an indictment of the American and the international press that came here in the immediate aftermath of this devastating earthquake." Penn explained: "The United States sent its military, that did an extraordinary job in immediate relief....And then when they went on with other deployments, when the amputations en masse stopped, the media left."
Smith gave absolutely no reaction to Penn's scathing criticism, but simply went on to tout praise for the left-wing actor's work on the island nation: "I was reading the comments of a lieutenant general from the U.S. Southern Command who you came in contact with. And he said, 'you know, maybe I don't agree with Sean Penn's politics but I can tell you this, he's a doer, not a talker....I applaud the leadership he has shown. He doesn't have to do this.'"