Obama: Sony Made Mistake Pulling ‘The Interview’; U.S. Will Respond Proportionally At Time And Place We Choose — Update

President Obama Kim Jong Un Sony Hack

Sony “made a mistake” in caving to North Korean hackers, President Obama said bluntly this morning during his year-end news conference. He said the United States “will respond proportionally” to the cyber attack on the studio — which included threatening to harm moviegoers — “at a place and time we choose.” The studio’s handling of the hack was the very first question White House press corps asked Obama at the annual year-in-review, which speaks to how seriously the situation is being taken in Washington.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States” he said in an extremely strong answer to a question about the hack of the studio. “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 a news report 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.

“Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage, threats against some employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns they faced. Having said that, yes I think they made a mistake,” Obama said this morning when asked just that.

“That’s not what America is about…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 promised the government will respond to the attack. “They caused a lot of damage and we will respond. We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose. It’s not something that I will announce here today at a press conference,”  he said.

But, he advised Hollywood, “We can’t start changing our patterns behavior any more than stop going to football game because might be possibility of terrorist attack…Let’s not get into that way of doing business.

” It says something interesting about North Korea that they decided to have the state launch an all-out assault on a movie studio because of a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. 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.” (Obama actually pronounced Franco’s last name as “Flacco,” likely confusing him with NFL quarterback Joe Flacco.)

This morning, the FBI officially declared North Korea to blame for the hacking attack against Sony. “North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves,” the agency said in a detailed statement. “Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.” The agency said tools used in the attack are similar to a March ’13 cyber attack against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

On Thursday, the White House had said it’s important the United States government not play into the hands of those responsible for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment by over-reacting. At his daily White House briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to pin the attack on the North Korean government — an announcement the media eagerly was anticipating out of the Justice Department. The investigation was being conducted by the FBI and the Department of Justice into who is behind the attack, which also included a threat on the lives of anyone who attended the Christmas Day opening of the studio’s movie.

“I can tell you that, consistent with the president’s previous statements about how we will protect against, monitor and respond to cyber incidents, this is something that’s being treated as a serious national security issue,” Earnest said. In re those who are conducting the government’s investigation, “First of all — as we would be in any scenario like that … they would be mindful of the fact that we need a proportional response,” Earnest said. “Sophisticated actors, when carry out actions like this, are oftentimes … seeking to provoke a response from the United States of America,” he said. “They may believe that a response from us, in one fashion or another, would be advantageous to them. And so we need to be mindful of that.”

Related Sony Hack: A Timeline

The media was impatient for a headline about North Korea’s role in the cyber attack on Sony, over the release of its comedy movie The Interview, about a bumbling talk show host and his producer who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Asked at yesterday’s briefing what is President Obama’s position on a comedy movie that depicts the assassination of an actual leader of a country, Earnest responded patiently:

“The president and the administration stand squarely on the side of artists and other private citizens who seek to freely express their views. Sometimes those viewers can be laced with criticism, or are sometimes intended to provoke either some kind of either comedic response or one that is intended to be some element of pretty biting social commentary. All of that is appropriate and well within the right of private citizens to express their views.”

Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy


  1. agent by dayon Dec 19, 2014 11:11 am

    Easy to say it was mistake, but perhaps our president needs to grow some balls and do something. The U.S. lost a cyberwar. He should be more concerned. Like everything, this administration will sweep it under the rug and do nothing.

    • Wowon Dec 19, 2014 11:35 am

      How do you know they are doing nothing? Should they put out a press release and tell the world what they are doing?Maybe things are going on behind the scenes you dont know about. Or should we just drop some bombs? Maybe that would make you happy.

      • Wow2on Dec 19, 2014 11:49 am

        Wow, easy to say after sony made a mistake and if you heard Obama said he wished they had spoken to him. How with this going on did the administration not jump in. Nothing will come from this by them. Off to his vacation and it’s over with until the next hacking scand.

      • Fudgeon Dec 19, 2014 12:14 pm

        He will do nothing.

        And you will say nothing.

        He has no solutions. You have no solutions.

        • JrzygirlLAon Dec 19, 2014 12:21 pm

          Is that you, Kim Jon?

        • mr tomon Dec 19, 2014 12:32 pm

          Standing by for your solutions.

        • on Dec 19, 2014 12:40 pm

          Bullshit. Anything short of bombing them and the war-mongering, Obama-hating “children” will be unhappy and see him as doing nothing. I suggest you go play with some action figures or first-person shooter video games and leave the business of handling international conflict to the adults.

          • on Dec 26, 2014 7:37 pm

            You don’t anonymous do something about it

        • Wowon Dec 19, 2014 12:45 pm

          What are your solutions?

        • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:43 pm

          Easy solution: deprive the terrorists of what they want, namely for the movie to be squelched. So stream it free for the world to see on whitehouse.gov and double dog dare the fuckers to hack that shit.

          Obama needs to show that he is ready to defend the rights of Americans, given that that’s his JOB and all. Why do we even have a government if any tinpot psycho dictator can deprive us of our rights?

          • on Dec 20, 2014 10:03 am

            Right… And then people will complain about him doing that with tax payer money. Nothing will satisfy those who want to blame him for everything.

          • Andrewon Dec 21, 2014 6:40 pm

            Why only on bittorrent? Use federal pressure to get theater chains to show it. It’ll make money and there won’t be any attacks. Perhaps with some assurance of protection from liability in the improbable even of some attack.

        • slaymeon Dec 20, 2014 12:59 am

          Obama haters just love to hate Obama period. There is no rational or logic to their thinking so don’t even bother trying to understand them. They have brainwashed by fear and hatred – feeding on it as it is fed to them by foxnews, bill o’riley, sean hannity, rush limbaugh – just to name a few. It sucks – but that’s what’s happened to many conservatives.

    • deletedon Dec 19, 2014 11:42 am

      Hey, dumbass, it takes more than thirty seconds to plan and execute a response.

    • GGon Dec 19, 2014 11:57 am

      Did you even read the article? He said they will do something in their time. Surprise is what works just like North Korea patiently coordinated their surprise attack on Sony. No need to discuss with you “agent by day” what the president and his administration are doing. He and his administration are very good at coordinating surprise attacks. Ask Osama Bin Laden. No one saw the surprise Cuba announcement coming either. I know it’s hard for you to give him credit for doing anything even though you and he are on the same page in his statement. Heaven forbid you agree with the president of the United States.

      • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:46 pm

        The only “something” that matters in the public eye is to ensure that all Americans have a chance to see The Interview. It might seem odd that the President is touting what is no doubt a puerile and idiotic film he probably wouldn’t want his own daughters to see, but this measure is necessary as a show of strength and a confirmation that he will not countenance the outrage of Americans’ rights being subverted by a foreign dictator. Didn’t that sort of why the Founding Fathers started all this after all?

    • 1nowon Dec 19, 2014 12:09 pm

      Like he did nothing about Russia (who now has a currency in shambles).

      Or nothing about Bin Laden (who lies at the bottom of the ocean).

      I expect our President to do what he always does. Get the job done without spending trillions of US dollars and thousand of soldiers lives.

      • Rickon Dec 19, 2014 12:28 pm

        Well said. It’s typical partisan rhetoric to accuse Obama of doing nothing.

      • west coast storyon Dec 19, 2014 12:34 pm

        Are you kidding me? We did nothing? We rallied other countries and imposed economic sanctions that have contributed to Russia’s failing economy. We did nothing… Obama imposed sanctions and waited it out. How you like strong powerful Putin now. The crafty/smart leader that everyone expressed great admiration for is presiding over a collapsing economy.

      • don't cry for me sony pictureson Dec 19, 2014 12:49 pm

        Oops. My bad. We are, it seems, on the same age

      • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:48 pm

        Heh heh…I’m hoping Kim Il Fuckwit’s head blows up for a real at the end of all this…that would be beeoootyful…

      • on Dec 26, 2014 12:01 am

        Thats because the U. S has no money being bankrupt as shit!

    • Joe The Produceron Dec 19, 2014 12:10 pm

      The President has said more than the MPAA, the Guilds, or any other studios. So get a grip.

    • Jennyon Dec 19, 2014 3:13 pm

      A “cyberwar”??? LOL. That’s delusional. It was a hack against Sony, a foreign company at that.

      It’s not the responsibility of the federal government of the United States to protect the servers of a private company, especially a multi-billion dollar one with the resources to purchase and hire sophisticated network security solutions.

      • on Dec 21, 2014 8:23 am

        Fox News says it’s a cyber-war so expect that to be repeated over and over again by its faithful followers.

    • rogue_mouseron Dec 26, 2014 6:11 pm

      I’m not sure how North Korean hackers hitting a Japanese company means the US lost a cyberwar. Last I checked, corporations still haven’t managed to become the government yet, and aren’t people always going on about how the government needs to stay out of the affairs of private industry? It wasn’t an attack on the US government, only on a Japanese corporation with US holdings.

  2. Giovannion Dec 19, 2014 11:12 am

    President Obama just dumped on Sony for their bone-headed response by pulling the film out of theathes. Now whose heads are exploding?

    • Nopeon Dec 19, 2014 12:00 pm

      President Obama had nothing to do with pulling the movie from theatres.

      • re:aboveon Dec 19, 2014 8:44 pm

        That’s not what America is about…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’.

    • Tom Eisenmengeron Dec 19, 2014 8:17 pm

      Sony didn’t pull the film out of theaters. The major theater chains said that they would not show the film. Big difference. If you want to rag on AMC, Carmike, or the others, have at it.

  3. on Dec 19, 2014 11:13 am

    I like Obama generally, but how exactly did Sony make a “mistake?” Please tell me it’s not because they decided to make this movie. It’s a comedy and yes it was surely meant to provoke a reaction — often the point of creative expression. Our President can’t blame the victim here and if he is, then we’re really screwed.

    • on Dec 19, 2014 11:27 am

      he’s saying they made a mistake by pulling the movie and not releasing it. Didn’t you read his comments?

      • on Dec 19, 2014 11:52 am

        Thank you, geeeez!!!

    • jordansmovieon Dec 19, 2014 11:31 am

      He is referring to Sony bowing down to the hackers and not releasing the movie. However, that blame can be attributed to the theaters that refused to show it. Sony could have distributed it if they had the support from theaters earlier on, but only now, after they’ve officially cancelled the entire release of the film, are people beginning to lend support.

      • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:50 pm

        Sony can release it on VOD/streaming. They can sell it to Fox to show on TV (Fox would jump at the chance to wrap themselves in the freedom of speech flag, even if their viewers would probably turn all shades of purple, blue and green when they see the content.) Sony doesn’t get a pass for blaming the theaters.

    • on Dec 19, 2014 11:32 am

      Did you bother reading the article AT ALL? Seriously, all the answers to your questions were in the very beginning of the article.

    • on Dec 19, 2014 11:32 am

      You’re interpretation is amusing

    • on Dec 19, 2014 11:34 am

      really? you would rather, the president, to say its ok for north korea to decide whats allowed in american movies? really? i truly dont understand the state of mind of you cowards, i truly fear your mindset more then any terrorist with any bomb, your completely fine with being a flock of scared sheep, do you really believe a north korean is going to come flying out of the back alley when your in line for a movie? if so please seek help because thats no way to go through life, scared the entire time, and its not just this movie, ‘team america’ was pulled too, a ten year old puppet movie, made by paramount not sony, why did they pull it? they are scared just like you

    • Wowon Dec 19, 2014 11:36 am

      It is very clear. He said they made a mistake not releasing it. If you read what he said its crystal clear. Geez

    • Bill blankenshipon Dec 19, 2014 11:36 am

      he’s clearly calling the cancellation a mistake.

      “We can’t start changing our patterns behavior any more than stop going to football game because might be possibility of terrorist attack…Let’s not get into that way of doing business.”

    • Choon Dec 19, 2014 11:42 am

      Did you read the article? That’s the opposite of what he was saying. He was saying they made a mistake canceling the release.

    • deletedon Dec 19, 2014 11:42 am

      No, dummy, he’s saying it was a mistake to not release it.

    • Janeon Dec 19, 2014 11:43 am

      did you even read the article or did you just read the headline an comment

    • KGon Dec 19, 2014 11:59 am

      He was commenting that it was a mistake to pull the film, suggesting as others have that it sets a bad precedent.

  4. Joe Commenton Dec 19, 2014 11:16 am

    Is there anything anti-American for which the president won’t apologize?

    • ExecProduceron Dec 19, 2014 11:45 am

      I think your triple negative has confused even you.

    • Gene in L.A.on Dec 19, 2014 11:53 am

      Please explain exactly what anti-Americanism he apologized for.

    • Observationon Dec 19, 2014 11:56 am

      Wtf! are you talking about? Must’ve watched a different news conference! Geeezzz

    • GGon Dec 19, 2014 12:03 pm

      Don’t understand your comment.

    • Jeztiron Dec 19, 2014 12:12 pm

      Yeah. This situation is one of them, you fool.

    • Rickon Dec 19, 2014 12:30 pm

      Joe Comment’s post doesn’t make any sense.

    • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:51 pm

      Bad day to be a drugdebot I guess. Getting’ kinda desperate there, sport.

    • on Dec 19, 2014 6:50 pm

      Yeah, you.

  5. Martin A.on Dec 19, 2014 11:21 am

    They sure as hell did. Caving in opened a Pandora’s Box that will drag the industry down with it. Already the Carell / Verbinski North Korea project was shuttered. Sets an awful precedent going forward. The content of leaked e-mails was embarrassing, but the result of all of this is SHAMEFUL.

    • Observationon Dec 19, 2014 11:55 am

      Totally agree. An awful precedent for sure.

  6. Judy Lamppuon Dec 19, 2014 11:23 am

    Don’t we have hackers up to the task of returning the favor? Why don’t we fight this war correctly? Sony is the Jews in Nazi Germany and nobody stood up for them. The rest of them may see that their turn may be coming.

    • Belzon Dec 19, 2014 11:54 am

      And this is where North Korea made a big mistake, by exposing its capabilities over a dumb movie. Guaranteed our own corps of hackers are not only implementing counter-measures but also busy reverse-engineering the North Korean’s malware and methods. Remember Stuxnet that took down the Iran centrifuges? North Korea will no doubt experience a comparable assault on its infra-structure, nuclear and otherwise, meager as that infrastructure is. Not to mention sanctions on its ability to generate US dollar trade income, money laundering activities, etc. North Korea (and principally its elite ruling regime) will no doubt experience a tremendous blowback on this – all over a dumb inconsequential movie that tweaked Kim Jung-Un’s cult of personality. Talk about a waste of resources. Bottom line, NK over-reacted and made a big strategic mistake.

      • JrzygirlLAon Dec 19, 2014 3:27 pm

        I remember that Iran incident. Don’t recall the details, but their computers weren’t on the network, but our people basically created what was needed to take down the centrifuges and then sat back and waited for an Iranian engineer to bring work home to his relatively unprotected computer and BAM.

    • truthbetoldon Dec 19, 2014 12:20 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. We’ve got some of the best hackers in the business – hey 4chan, hey Anonymous, where the hell are you? Teach ’em a lesson.

    • on Dec 19, 2014 12:43 pm

      Who says we aren’t. Or maybe the president should have announced the time and place we will be retaliating.

  7. Babajingoon Dec 19, 2014 11:25 am

    Sony made a mistake? No way. If anything had happened at any of the movie theaters showing the film, Sony and the theater owners would’ve been held liable (even if it was perpetrated by a mentally unstable person who had nothing to do with North Korea). Of course they had to cancel the release.

  8. dman6015on Dec 19, 2014 11:40 am

    Hey, Sony execs, it’s only the 19th. You still have time to change your minds and open it wide on Christmas Day! Might be a good way to salvage something out of this mess. I know you’re Japanese (and don’t believe for a second that the decision didn’t come straight from Tokyo), but a little patriotism in America would go a long way.

    • Joe The Produceron Dec 19, 2014 12:11 pm

      The theaters cancelled the movie not SONY. Facts.

  9. Bleeon Dec 19, 2014 11:43 am


  10. deletedon Dec 19, 2014 11:44 am

    The President is 100% right–Amy and and Michael OUT–and bring someone in with the spine to do the right thing.

  11. Time and Place of Our Choosingon Dec 19, 2014 11:52 am

    I’ve got an idea… how about we send two journalists to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jongun?

    • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:56 pm

      Screw it, send in Seal Team Six. Make sure the fucker’s head explodes and you get it on tape for us all to laugh at.

  12. all4theprezon Dec 19, 2014 11:53 am

    But don’t think for a minute he wasn’t irked by what was said about him in those email

    • Rickon Dec 19, 2014 2:41 pm

      Yes, but he’s the President. You don’t get to be President if you have thin skin. Compare that to the young supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, who is can’t take even subtle disrespect without imprisoning people (to say nothing of his reaction to The Interview).

  13. GGon Dec 19, 2014 12:00 pm

    Funny how now everyone wants to jump on the president for saying exactly what 90% of Deadline posters have been saying since Sony pulled the movie???????? They were calling Sony cowards and upset at Sony for pulling the movie. Now the president is saying the same thing but somehow it’s a bad thing when he says it. Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t???????????? He has to coordinate the country’s next move (not his own move mind you) with several members of his administration so a response might not happen tomorrow folks.

    • Jeztiron Dec 19, 2014 12:15 pm

      The response didn’t come from a white man, remember? Clearly nobody wants to bust Rudin’s balls as much.

    • Anonymous1on Dec 19, 2014 12:26 pm

      It’s because he’s Black and much smarter than they are. Just your garden variety haterism.

    • Rickon Dec 19, 2014 12:34 pm

      The problem is that people are partisan. Their true opinions are no deeper than which “team” they root for.

    • nerdrageon Dec 19, 2014 1:57 pm

      I think the drudgebots have arrived. I’m happy he’s showing some teeth, now I want him to take a nice big bloody chunk of flesh.

  14. Nanon Dec 19, 2014 12:05 pm

    OK Sony, so release the movie on-line for a fee or free and we will buy it, watch it, enjoy it.

  15. Anonon Dec 19, 2014 12:05 pm

    Who is the pot and who is the kettle?

  16. Stupid Sonyon Dec 19, 2014 12:19 pm

    Sony Films, You screwed up when you decided to make this film. Picking a fight with a dangerous dictator, with a marketing strategy to cause an international incident, is stupid.

    But once you put The United States in this bad position of international conflict, the stupidest thing you could possibly do was to pull the film. You have made us all look bad to the benfit of hackers, terrorists and North Korea.

    Stupid, Stupid, Stupid Sony Films. I guess all that matters to you know is trying to prevent more leaks of corporate brass emails. Forget American free speech, forget even Sony and the many workers already hurt, just try to protect yourselves. Sad.

    • PGO3333@gmail.comon Dec 20, 2014 6:49 am

      Forget this free speech stuff. There are certain comedies you can’t make. For example, how about 2 guys who keep seeing incidents of Islamic terror like the cafe in Sydney or the school in Pakistan. They decide that if Islam did not become a worldwide religion none of this would have happened. So they go back in time and pull various pranks on Mohammad to make him look ridiculous. This could be a good comedy but it will never be made because it would be dangerous for the studio and the exhibitors. Sony should have been smart enough to stay away from a COMEDY where Kim is killed by a couple of goofballs.

      • Edwin Jeffersonon Dec 20, 2014 9:39 am

        That wouldn’t work because it’s an opinion shared by relatively few mature people.

        A better version would be say the plot of Four Lions. Because yes, there is a good satire about terrorism. It mocks the terrorists and their reasoning (in many ways) and the incompetence of the police to target the right people and prevent the situation escalating.

        If you haven’t seen it, go, watch it now.

  17. shuteyeon Dec 19, 2014 12:23 pm

    Didn’t the theater chains in reality make the decision by pulling the movie? Sony had no place to show this film and recoup their investment. Certainly VOD will not recoup this.

  18. M. Courton Dec 19, 2014 12:25 pm

    When all or most exhibitors dropped out, where exactly should Sony show the film? Maybe put a big screen on the White House lawn and send a WOM invite to anyone interested in a comedy? And if anything happens to the viewers, maybe Obama and The Donald can pay the lawsuits out of their own pockets. Sony has to answer to their stockholders. Unlike our politicians who can do whatever they like.

  19. Jack Hankon Dec 19, 2014 12:27 pm

    Obama stating “I wish they would have called me first” is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard come out of his mouth. POTUS doesn’t have Sony’s digits? There’s no way he wasn’t being debriefed minute by minute on this thing. If he wanted the picture to show he could have made a call to theaters privately OR publicly compelling them to move forward and offering extra security. Our government’s response to this was to do nothing, and then retroactively point fingers at Sony and NK. Meanwhile back in the USA your emails are being surreptitiously read and stored by our own government, not some enemy hacker.

  20. Two Really Bad Decisionson Dec 19, 2014 12:34 pm

    The only thing more stupid than Sony Films making this film to begin with, was Sony Films decision to capitulate to North Korea and pull the film.

    I can see the Sony Films big bosses meeting over drinks: “Hey lets go piss off a tyranical Asian dictator, known for cyber attacks, with a Japanese company owned by stockholders who can’t stop us. We will start an international incident with a rogue nuclear power. It will be fun and we will make a pile of money. Any objections? I didn’t think so, I mean who can get hurt, has anyone here even visited South Korea? We know their nukes can’t reach LA, right? lets do it.”

  21. Okon Dec 19, 2014 12:42 pm

    Yeah, we are Merica, it is our solemn duty to offend the sensibilities of everyone we can. I mean what good is free speech if you are not using it piss people off and causing more international conflict just to make money. Freedom is money, don’t ever forget that. Merica, hell yeah.

  22. felizthecaton Dec 19, 2014 12:46 pm

    Sony Pictures and the exhibitors need to unfuck themselves and release the film everywhere!

  23. Maceyon Dec 19, 2014 1:06 pm

    A specific threat has been made to the safety of theaters and moviegoers who might turn out to see this movie. Sony is aware of this threat. If ANYTHING happens in a theater to anyone while watching this movie, Sony is liable, as they were aware of the possibility. The liability is too great. They HAD to pull the movie from the theaters. You would think that Obama’s advisors would know the ins and outs of insurance and liabilities, and make him aware of these things so he would ‘t make these types of statements…

  24. TV Watcheron Dec 19, 2014 1:09 pm

    It troubles me that Sony executives felt the need to grovel in front of Al Sharpton but not give the President of the United States an advance notice of their response to potential terrorist acts on U.S. soil. Liberal Hollywood Democrats such as Amy Pascal were key supporters of the Obama campaigns but seem to have little respect for him.

  25. Jason Braun (@sfstreetfoto)on Dec 19, 2014 1:30 pm

    Very well said. I appreciate the fact that the President waited until the FBI was certain the attack came from North Korea. Past administrations would have knee-jerked an accusation without do process. Outside of that I also think Obama has made a strong statement. We won’t be bullied and our response will be very real. I wouldn’t be surprised if the FBI’s best programmers aren’t already working to dismantle something very near and dear to Baby Huey.

    • ---------on Dec 25, 2014 8:13 pm

      Do we have any proof it’s coming from North Korea

Load More Comments