On Friday, President Obama addressed the Sony hack, telling reporters the studio “made a mistake” by cancelling the Christmas Day premiere of “The Interview,” which depicted the assassination of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un.
“I wish [Sony] had spoken to me first,” he said. “I would have told them do not get into a pattern where you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.”
Sony CEO Michael Lynton responded to Obama’s remarks by saying that the studio “did not cave” and that “the president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened.”
It sounds like everyone, even those involved, may still be confused by what actually did happen and now the situation has turned into a game of he-said/she-said between Sony and the White House.
After Friday’s press conference, Lynton further contradicted Obama’s criticism in his first interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaraia, airing Sunday.
“We definitely spoke to a senior advisor in the White House to talk about the situation,” Lynton confirmed. “The White House was certainly aware of the situation.”
According to Deadline, “Sony also consulted with the US State Department before the November hacking attack to assess any potential political heat the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy might provoke. Lynton said Sony went to experts, think tanks, and the State Department ‘to get an understanding of whether or not there was a problem’ with the comedy about two bumbling journalists sent to assassinate North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.”
But the White House allegedly told Sony all was fine. “We were told there wasn’t a problem, so we continued to proceed,” Lynton said Friday in the pre-taped interview with CNN. “The US government told us there wasn’t a problem.”
But then there was a problem — Sony Entertainment was brutally hacked by a group calling themselves “Guardians of Peace,” who wouldn’t stop releasing private information about the company until the studio promised to stop the Christmas Day release of “The Interview.” When Sony didn’t back down, major theatre chains did, refusing to show the controversial film, and then Sony pulled the movie from a theatrical release.
According to Obama, he never got a call from Sony specifically asking whether it should pull “The Interview” from theatres.
Obama spoke to CNN’s Candy Crowley after his press conference Friday, who relayed that Obama said: “They [Sony] called about the hacking… there was not discussions about distributing or not distributing.”
Obama also told Crowley that had he been approached by Sony, he would have personally talked to the movie theatre chains about sticking with the Dec. 25 release date, according to Variety.
A senior administration official who spoke to Variety on condition of anonymity said: “There was a meeting, and they [Sony] did present to the government their issue. But to say that we instructed them, or made them to believe that we endorsed the idea of them pulling the film, is categorically incorrect. The administration, and no administration, is in the habit of instructing businesses what to do or not do or how to conduct their business.”
The official added that it “defies logic” that the administration would have told the studio to pull the movie, as it would be a “bad idea.”
On Friday, Lynton confirmed that Sony is still “looking into release on other platforms” and “It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.”
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