"I wish they had spoken to me first," President Obama said Friday of Sony's decision to cancel the release of "The Interview" in the face of threats from North Korea.
"They made a mistake," he continued. "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States."
Later in the day, Sony CEO Michael Lynton shot back, telling CNN that Obama was "mistaken as to what actually happened" and it was the theaters, not Sony, that made the release of the movie impossible.
Asked to respond to Lynton, Obama did not back down, telling CNN Friday, "Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was."
"If we set a precedent," Obama continued, "in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company's distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that's a problem."
But if Sony's decisions sets a bad precedent that could lead to self-censorhip, then why did Obama not call Sony?
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier in the week that Obama was receiving daily briefings on the Sony hack which, Earnest said, the White House considered "a serious national security matter."
If the matter was so serious then why did Obama never tell Sony he had their back? Other leaders in similar circumstances have. National Review's Jonah Goldberg recounts:
The first issue of Captain America came out on December 20, 1940. It shows Cap slugging Adolph Hitler in the mouth. ... Subsequent issues kept pitting Captain America against Hitler and his goons.
The angriest reaction came from the German-American Bund, Hitler’s stooges in the U.S. They harassed Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, the creators ofCaptain America, with hate mail and telephoned death threats.
“The theme was ‘death to the Jews,’” Simon wrote in his memoir. “At first we were inclined to laugh off their threats, but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building on 42nd Street, and some of the employees were fearful of leaving the office for lunch.”
Simon called the cops, and as soon as the police showed up, the phone rang. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia wanted to speak to the creators of Captain America. Simon got on the line. “You boys over there are doing a good job,” the voice squeaked. “The city of New York will see that no harm will come to you.’”
That is how it’s supposed to work in a democracy.
Sony reportedly called the FBI almost immediately after they found out they were hacked. Where was the White House call to Sony telling them, "The United States government will see that no harm will come to you"?