Obama Calls Sony Hack ‘Cyber Vandalism,’ Not Act of War

Barack Obama Sony Hack The Interview
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Barack Obama told CNN that North Korea’s hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is an act of “cyber-vandalism,” not an act of war.

Despite the tens of millions of dollars in damage to the studio’s business operations and threats of violence, the president said he wished that Sony had not canceled the Christmas release of “The Interview.”

“If we set a precedent 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,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday’s “State of the Union.”

North Korea was incensed that “The Interview” depicts a successful assassination attempt on its leader Kim Jong-un. In retaliation, it reportedly leaked internal Sony emails, salary details and film budgets, creating a firestorm of media coverage. In a message this week, hackers evoked the memory of 9/11 while threatening theaters that showed the film and moviegoers who bought tickets to the picture.

“The Boston Marathon suffered an actual grievous attack that killed and maimed a number of people and that next year we had as successful a Boston Marathon as we’ve ever had,” Obama said. “Sometimes this is a matter of setting a tone and being very clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by some cyber hackers.”

In his own CNN interview, Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton expressed disappointment with the president’s comments about the cancellation.

“We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered,” the studio chief told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, adding, “Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it.”

Obama said he wished he had the opportunity to plead the case for releasing the film to exhibitors.

“I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have business considerations that they got to make,” the president said. “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.”

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  1. Geosota says:

    Unbelievable. Vandalism? Right. While this whole attack was going down, where was the White House? He claims Sony never called, but if they had he might have called the theatre operators to ask what was going on. Where’s the leadership in that?

  2. Julienne says:

    OH….and then they threatened a 9/11 styled attack? THAT’s not a threat of war. Grow a brain Obama.

  3. Julienne says:

    THEE weakest President in history! Release Terrorists….let every communist country walk all over the U.S….bow to other countries leaders like a servant. This guy doesn’t get it. Never did, never will.

  4. IF Obama beleives that this is an act of hacking/vandalism-it’s time to call in Julian Assange & his team, PARDON THEM, and ask them to sort this out for you! happy xmas, may we make it into the NEW YEAR”

  5. Sam says:

    At this point, our President just needs to be quiet or get on his plane and dialogue with Japan personally – not call and definitively not email. If a rogue state did this to the U.S. and Japan then a dialogue is warranted.

  6. John Shea says:

    A semantic distinction.

  7. me says:

    Clearly Obama has never worked anywhere near the industry.

    Exhibitors do what they want, pretty much .. always.

  8. Threatening our nation by an act of terrorism and compare it to the worst devastating event like 9-11 should not be neglected.

  9. socalcreate says:

    A voice of reason finally surfaces! “…vandalism,” not an act of war.” I thought the country had lost it’s mind and we were going to war over this! I’m not a fan of the North Korean leader, but the bigger questions that no one is asking… Why did the filmmakers use his name? Putting this in perspective (which seems to be un-American at the moment – lol), how angry would we be if a foreign filmmaker would came out with a movie to assassinate President Obama?

  10. mcfeagle says:

    It’s comical that Obama, after the fact, claims that he could have helped. His comments are pointless, and irresponsible. It’s like coming in thinking you are saving the day only to find that you came in 48 hours after the world already ended. Completely pointless.

  11. Able says:

    Exactly! This is how a level headed human being reacts in a situation like this. Obama sees it for exactly what it is. Not through anger, or hatred, or racial tension, or a war minded point of view. It WAS cyber vandalism. Nothing else. The threats they gave they have since backed down from and said they never had any intention of hurting anyone. Read the news people. Welcome to a Democratic President. If this were a Bush, they’d be trying to figure out some angry, militaristic response that would escalate into lives being lost. Not on our soil though, but probably in S Korea and China. If only dictators acted like Obama. The world would be a much better place.

  12. Jack says:

    You’re an idiot. How did you inane and totally irrelevant comment get through?

  13. Bill says:

    Yes, mere vandalism; ignore the threats of violence/mass murder involved.

    Pesky kids.

    • Michele says:

      Those threats have no merit moron. It would be like a child threatening you from 1000 miles away. That’s who N Korea is. But, they can get you through a cable if your computer is hooked up to it – yes.

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