On Friday afternoon, on the way out the door, as he headed for yet another vacation in Hawaii, President Obama mounted the podium in the White House press room for a year-end meeting with the media. There he scolded Sony Pictures for canceling The Interview, slammed North Korea for its hacking and threats, and despite prevailing opinion, claimed that the USA is experiencing a “resurgence” in the world.
The media focused most intently on the President’s comments about the growing tension between Sony Pictures and North Korean hackers, who were facilitated by China.
Obama criticized Sony for canceling the debut of the Seth Rogan film The Interview, a comedy centered around a hapless CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. For weeks hackers in North Korea have been attacking the private data of the motion picture company and ultimately threatened acts of terror if the film were to open on Friday.
With the growing threat, Sony Pictures caved in to the threats and canceled the film. Obama, though, criticized Sony’s move.
“I think they made a mistake,” Obama said of the film’s cancellation. “I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them: Do not get into the pattern in which you are intimidated,” he added.
“We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States,” he said. If a dictator can have such power over a silly comedy movie, “imagine what they’ll start doing” with more legitimate news and movies, the President said.
By Friday evening, however, Sony was reporting that they did call the White House before they made their decision to cancel the film debut.
Stung by Obama’s criticism, Sony CEO Michael Lynton said that they did reach out to the White House and spoke to a senior White House aide. “The White House was certainly aware of the situation,” Lynton said.
Sony also insisted that the entertainment company did not “cave” to North Korean demands.
“We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie,” Lynton said.
Sony also reported that it intended to look into video on demand and Internet-based options for fans to see the movie.
The Sony exec also noted that he was disappointed both with the president’s reaction and the seeming lack of support that the company got from others in Hollywood.
The president tackled other topics, too. For instance, despite the general assumption by pundits, the media, and even folks in other countries that America is in retreat all across the world, Obama insisted that the USA is leading the world.
Contrary to leading opinion, the President insisted, “All around the world, America is leading. Pick any metric you want–America’s resurgence is real. We are better off.”
He also briefly spoke on his latest foreign policy moves with Cuba. While he noted that “change is coming to Cuba,” he would not commit to a state visit to the island nation.
The President also hinted that, in the remaining two yeas of his term, he would enter into an activist stage where he ignores Congress, the voters, and likely the Constitution as he wages campaigns to implement the far left policies of his dreams.
Finally, the presser was also notable for one Obama flub and for the decision to call on women only for questions.
As to the flub, Obama called one of the actors in The Interview James “Flacco,” when in fact his name is James Franco. As to those the President called upon, Obama went out of his way to choose only women from organizations who don’t often get called upon in these pressers.
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