Obama Tells Sony Not to Be Intimidated, Hails New Cuba Policy, Discusses Criminal Justice Reform


White House

In his last press conference of the year, President Obama criticized Sony for bowing to threats and choosing not to show The Interview in theatres. The president expressed disappointment that Sony did not run that decision by him first and warned the company against going down the path of bowing to intimidation:

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. 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 news reports that they don't like."

He confirmed that North Korea was responsible for the hack and said there was no evidence that any other nation is involved.

Obama also talked about his new approach to Cuba. He criticized the 50-year-embargo for failing to produce regime change in the socialist island nation, but said that it would ultimately be up to Congress to fix the policy. He noted that repealing the embargo has support—and opposition—on both sides of the political aisle.

The president took a measured tone on the Keystone pipeline, although he disputed that its approval would result in a vast economic boon, as many conservatives have promised. It's an issue to tackle in the new year, he said.

The press conference ended on a positive note, with Obama insisting that "the vast majority of people are just trying to do the right thing," when asked about race relations in America. He noted that criminal justice reform is progressing, and draws bipartisan support.

Presidential proclamations on policy issues usually provoke well-deserved groans from libertarians. But all things considered, there was more to like here than usual.