Obama Administration Denies Advising on Decision to Pull ‘The Interview’

Obama Administration Denies Advising on Decision
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President Obama sat for an interview with CNN on Friday and rebutted any notion that Sony Pictures Entertainment consulted with the White House on pulling “The Interview” from theaters after the news channel aired excerpts of a separate interview in which the studio’s chairman, Michael Lynton, described reaching out to the Obama administration.

In addition, a source close to the administration took issue with any suggestion that it advised Sony on the film’s release.

CNN anchor Candy Crowley nabbed the interview with Obama, which will be shown in full on Sunday for the final installment of her series “State of the Union.” Appearing on the network Friday to promote the interview, she recounted that Obama told her no one in the White House talked with Sony about yanking the film.

“They called about the hacking,” Crowley, who announced she was leaving the network earlier this month, said on air that Obama told her. “There was not discussions about distributing or not distributing.”

In Lynton’s earlier CNN interview, he does not specify what he talked to the White House about exactly, but administration officials were concerned that his comments would be interpreted as meaning they advised on the release decision. “I personally did reach out to senior folks in the White House and talked to them about the situation and informed them we needed help,” Lynton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that will run in full Sunday on “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” He said that he talked to a “senior adviser” about the situation, but not Obama himself. “The White House was certainly aware of this situation,” he said. He indicated that the conversation took place within the past few days.

Obama also told Crowley that had he been approached by Sony, he would have personally talked to the movie theater chains about sticking with the Dec. 25 release date.

A senior administration official who spoke to Variety on condition of anonymity said, “There was a meeting, and they 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 said that it “defies logic” that the administration would somehow give its endorsement to pulling the movie, as it would be a “bad idea.”

Lynton was responding to President Obama’s statement on Friday that the studio’s decision to pull the movie was “a mistake.” “I wish they had spoken to me first,” Obama said, referring to Sony, in a press conference. “I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you’re intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.”

A rep for Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

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  1. bsbarnes says:

    Sony would have been irresponsible if they hadn’t consulted with the White House before pulling “The Interview” to confirm that doing so would not leave our country vulnerable to a cyber attack. To think that the same creative team who brought us “Pineapple Express” have now caused an international incident with another dopey movie shows just how half-baked Hollywood can be. Sony’s Amy Pascal should be using a different Public Relations firm than Bill Cosby if she wants to keep her job after New Year’s Day.

  2. K.D. says:

    Hold it folks…The nuttiest part of this whole story has been completely overlooked.

    A senior administration official said….” The administration, and no administration, is in the habit of instructing businesses what to do or not do or how to conduct their business.”

    And just one graph above that had, “Obama also told Crowley….he would have personally talked to the movie theater chains about sticking with the Dec. 25 release date.

    Hello!! Hypocrisy for a $1000 Alex.

  3. Gump Chun says:

    Sony is talking nonsense. If you talked to the White House, tell us what about. It appears to have been about the hack, not the plan to yank the film. Every time something comes out of Sony things take a dramatic dive.

    This has been a complete cluster**** and a cowardly bunch of decision-making from loser chain owners like that conservative **** Anschutz, followed by a clear professional rear-end-coverer Lynton and then the mealy-mouthed paid shill Chris Dodd.

    Is anyone a home in the film industry? At Sony?

    You are the most embarrassing and soon t o be vilified pariahs in American capitalism. A 12 year old could make better and braver decisions

  4. Venus DiMilo says:

    It doesn’t matter! What matters is that we -as a country- make it clear we will not be bullied & intimidated; squabbling between the parties involved is completely counterproductive. I am of the opinion Sony should release the movie FREE on the internet, and why not? they won’t profit from it much by not releasing it, will they? They should release it free, viewable to anyone who wants to watch it, thereby sending Mr. North Korea a big KISS MY ASS from the whole US of A! They might possibly redeem themselves from their recent bad behavior , as well. Such a release would negate a public retaliation (like a bombing). Even a tyrant like Kim Jong-un would think twice before starting a war.

  5. Jacques Strappe says:

    SONY just continues to dig itself a deeper hole. It’s not like its the first corporation to be hacked and have information stolen but it is the first to be blackmailed by the North Korean government (confirmed by the FBI today) with the threat of more damaging information being released and/or 9/11-style attacks on US soil. SONY should have consulted with the Feds w/r/t the fate of this movie under the circumstances rather than dismiss the President’s criticism over SONY’s decision. SONY just looks very small and petty.

  6. Paully says:

    You Hollywood geniuses have swapped out film for a digital delivery system.. Boy are you guys are going to get shafted.

  7. nerdrage says:

    The government told Sony that it didn’t believe the threats against theaters were plausible. Sony decided to be cowardly anyway. And now they’re blaming Obama? They’re just digging themselves in deeper now.

  8. Nanny Mo says:

    Snowden said that the NSA had successfully put a “backdoor” code into all secure websites allowing them to open them at will. If true it makes you wonder if someone sold this “backdoor” code to our enemies. It’s not wise to have groups like the NSA snooping on everything. Sony here is a perfect example. If the NSA can get in, anyone mad at Sony who knows NSA codes can get in as well, not to mention any disenfranchised I.T. employee for the government etc. We need to get back to privacy and court ordered access only.

    • SM8 says:

      You need to learn how web sites work. The Open Source community would spot a backdoor like this so quick. Most web sites in the world, even secure sites, are running Apache or Nginx or Lighttpd and they use OpenSSL, an open source Secure Socket Layer implementation. There aren’t any “backdoors” in this software. Maybe there are exploitable bugs (Heartbleed bug for example) but not “backdoors” that the NSA put there. This kind of hack wasn’t even done from a web site. It is reportedly done with malware.

    • scvtaylor says:

      And that’s assuming that North Korea is actually responsible. It’s just as plausible that another intelligence agency did it. It was the most dramatic hack in the history of hacks, why would NK deny it? And why write code in Korean if they planned to deny it? Methinks its not so simple.

      • cardmarc58 says:

        I am not sure why people think this was the most dramatic hack or what a few people said it was uncharted territory . Hollywood has blown this so out of proportion that it’s got the media all over it and then they cave in to a threat that has zero credibility, which just compounded the situation by 10x

        We have had scores of more serious hacks for quite a few years where they get to financial information that have multiple layers of security, this was as simple as a Sys. Admin. not securing his log in information and the hackers got to emails and personnel files. More often than not the email systems are usually the least secure, unless you are a government contractor and are required to maintain a certain level.

  9. EK says:

    Now this has degenerated into a pissing match between the White House and Sony!? What was already an embarassing mess has now become even more so.

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