At President Obama’s annual year-end press conference held at the White House on Friday, the President said that Sony’s decision to not release “The Interview” was a mistake.
“I think they made a mistake,” he said. “I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated.”
Obama stated that among several reasons why the company’s decision to not release their already completed film, which is a comedy whose story revolves around the assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, sets a dangerous precedent for future intimidation and threats from dictatorial regimes.
“We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States,” Obama said. He further speculated what could happen if North Korea or some other oppressive government or leadership decided that they didn’t like the message coming from documentaries or news reports.
Stating that there is no evidence that China helped North Korea with the hack, as some have speculated, the President said that the US is planning a retaliation which will be “proportional and appropriate” and “in a time and place and manner” of our choosing. Certainly our response is “not something that I will announce today here at a press conference.”
Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment strongly disagreed with Obama’s, and many other’s assessment of his company’s response to the hack. Lynton told CNN that,
“We have not caved. We have not given in. We have preserved. And we have not backed down. We have — we have always had — every desire to have the American public see this movie.”
Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus said on Saturday that theaters should go ahead and show the movie.
“As a sign of my commitment, if you agree to show this movie, I will send a note to the Republican Party’s millions of donors and supporters urging them to buy a ticket — not to support one movie or Hollywood, but to show North Korea we cannot be bullied into giving up our freedom,” he said in a statement first cited by CNN.