President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment “made a mistake” by nixing the release of a comedic film after the company was hacked and received cyber threats.
“Sony’s a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against some of its employees,” he said “I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.”
In a year-end press conference, Obama said that he wishes Sony had spoken to him before deciding to back down on the film “The Interview,” which depicted a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “I would have told them,”do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks,'” he said.
“That’s not who we are,” he said. “That’s not what America’s about.”
Obama also addressed his recent decision to work towards normalized relations with Cuba, saying that he believes more engagement with the nation will advance the freedom of its people.
“I don’t anticipate overnight changes,” he said. “But what I know deep in my bones, is that if you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and things haven’t changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome.”
“Change is going to come to Cuba,” he added. “It has to.”
He acknowledged that presidential action alone cannot cancel the decades-long embargo against Cuba but said that he expects a “healthy debate” in Congress about the issue.
Obama added that he hopes to one day visit the island nation but said that, at this stage, a trip is not “in the cards.”
“There is nothing specific where we’re trying to target some sort of visit,” he said.
On race relations
Asked about race relations in the United States, Obama said that, like all Americans, many black families are better off due to the improving economy. But he suggested that the income gap between white and black Americans persists.
“I have been consistent in saying that this is a legacy of a troubled racial past, Jim Crow and slavery. That’s not an excuse for black folks,” he said. “And I think the overwhelming majority of black people understand that’s not an excuse.”
And, he added, the debate over policing reforms in the wake of the Ferguson and Staten Island grand jury decisions has been a “healthy conversation.”
On the final years of his presidency
The president opened the briefing by highlighting his administration’s accomplishments throughout the year, emphasizing recent positive economic news and the millions of Americans who are newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.
“Take any metric that you want,” he said after mentioning advances in manufacturing and the energy sector. “America’s resurgence is real. We are better off.”
The president notably only called on female reporters during the lengthy exchange with the press corps, during which he struck an optimistic note, saying he is “energized” and “excited” about the final two years of his presidency.
“My presidency’s heading into the fourth quarter,” he said. “Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.”