Following the news that Sony Pictures would indefinitely shelve The Interview following terrorist threats from North Korea–based hackers, everyone from politicians to filmmakers to George R.R. Martin condemned the movie studio for bending to the hackers’ demands and setting a precedent in the war against cyber attacks. In Barack Obama’s year-end address Friday, amid comments on Cuba and job growth, the President also criticized Sony for pulling the comedy and overreacting to the threats.
“I think [Sony] made a mistake,” Obama said. “We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States.” He added that the measures North Korea took towards censoring a comedy “gives you a sense of the kind of regime we’re talking about.”
“That’s not what America’s about,” the President continued. “Again, I’m sympathetic that Sony, as a private company, was worried about liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they’d spoken to me first. I would have told them, ‘Do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.'”
Obama also confirmed the FBI’s report that North Korea was solely behind the cyber attack and promised to respond to their actions in some capacity, but did not elaborate on whether it would be through military action, economic sanctions or other course. “We’ve been working up a range of options,” the President said, adding that the response will be “proportional and appropriate.”
Obama also joked that he loves “Seth [Rogen] and James [Franco],” but he did not reveal whether The Interview is among the films he plans to screen during his Christmas vacation.