The Slatest

Obama Says Cancellation of The Interview Was “a Mistake,” Calls James Franco “James Flacco”

Throwing himself firmly into Rob Lowe’s camp on the issue, Barack Obama said at a press conference today that Sony’s decision to cancel The Interview because of threats made by North Korean hackers was a mistake. The president’s words:

Sony’s a corporation. It suffered significant damage, there were threats against some employees, I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.

He spoke briefly about his administration’s cybersecurity initiatives before returning to the subject of the film:

But even as we get better the hackers are gonna get better too. Some of them are going to be state actors, some of them are going to be non-state actors. All of them are going to be sophisticated and many of them can do some damage. We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like. Or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended. That’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about.

Again, I’m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried about liabilities and this and that and the other…I wish they would have 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.” Imagine if instead of it being a cyberthreat, somebody had broken into their offices and destroyed a bunch of computers and stolen disks. Is that what it takes for you to pull the plug on something? So we’ll engage with not just the film industry but the news industry and the private sector around these issues, we already have, we’ll continue to do so, but I think all of us have to anticipate occasionally there are gonna be breaches like this. They’re gonna be costly, they’re gonna be serious, we take them with the utmost seriousness, but we can’t start changing our behavior any more than we stop going to a football game because there might be the possibility of a terrorist attack. Any more than Boston didn’t run its marathon this year because of the possibility that somebody might try to cause harm. Let’s not get into that way of doing business.

After a followup question, Obama appeared to conflate The Interview star James Franco with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco:

I think it says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state mount an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satricial movie starring Seth Rogen and James Flacco. I love Seth, and I love James…but the notion that that was a threat to them? I think gives you some sense of the kind of regime we’re talking about here.

Also of note: Obama only took questions today from female reporters. Barack Obama, James Franco, Joe Flacco, and Rob Lowe have eradicated the patriarchy!