President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony “made a mistake” in pulling its film The Interview from distribution following a cyberattack that American officials have linked to North Korea.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama confirmed the FBI’s assessment that North Korea was behind the attack. He said he wished the studio had reached out to him before canceling the film’s release, and that he fears it sets a bad precedent for the nation.
“We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” Obama said. “Imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of someone who’s sensibilities probably need to be offended.”
“That’s not who we are,” Obama added, noting that the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing did not deter runners from running this year. “That’s not what America’s about.”
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, appearing on CNN shortly after Obama spoke, defended the studio. “We have not caved,” he said. “We have not given up. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.”
Obama promised that the United States would respond “proportionally” to the attack, but would not detail those actions publicly.
“We will respond,” he said. We will respond proportionally, and we will respond at a place and time that we choose.”