The day after President Obama ended over a half-century of hostilities with Cuba, The Other Evil Commie Empire, North Korea, continues to dominate the news. At Thursday's White House briefing, a procession of reporters tried to get Press Secretary Josh Earnest to weigh in on Sony's decision to cancel the theatrical release of The Interview in the face of anonymous threats, but Earnest would only say that the decision was Sony's to make, and expressed the White House's solidarity with artists and free expression.
Fox News' Ed Henry took a slightly different tack, quizzing Earnest about the content of some stolen emails that The Daily Beast reported on. According to that story, a senior State Department official approved of the film's ending, and that Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Amb. Robert King dismissed North Korea's June threat that the film would be considered an "act of war." However, the emails published by The Daily Beast only describe these interactions second-hand, and although the reporter, William Boot, says that "at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut" of The Interview, the emails he quotes don't actually say that. The State Department flatly denied that King had seen the film.
That didn't stop Henry from saying they did, as he asked Earnest about the story, and why the administration felt the need to get involved. Earnest explained that "there is no policy" of screening films in production for approval, but that it wouldn't surprise him "that administration officials were consulted about the film prior to its release, at the request of officials from the company that was producing the movie."
Not quite a confirmation, but miles away from a denial. Pretty decent work, Ed. Then it got weird:
"I'm not suggesting you were dictating to them, but I'm saying, you had an involvement months ago, in this, so did this administration underestimate the impact this was going to have?"
Seriously? The Interview is the new #Benghazi? It must be mentally exhausting to go to work every day and have to fill in a daily Mad Lib about what's Obama's fault today. Why did Obama let there be a stupid little soccer-ball 'droid in the new Star Wars movie? Why?! And seriously, Obama, Green Day?
Earnest, of course, answered "no," but also gave up a tiny bit of news by at least confirming some involvement. When Henry asked "Why get involved at all," Earnest responded "We did so at the request of the company."
That was some nice work too, but then it got weird again:
"Given the fact that they were twisting in the wind, the company, for several days about what to do, why didn't the President, other senior officials here, speak out and say 'Look, whatever decision you make, you're an American company, we've got your back?'"
Of course, it's weird that Ed would only think the President would have an American company's back, especially since Sony is a Japanese company, but as Earnest pointed out, the President did speak out about it, right on teevee. Not only that, though, the federal government could not possibly have Sony's back any more than it did, dismissing the threats against The Interview's premiere as "not credible"via several agencies.
If anything, Americans ought to be disturbed at Sony's private consultant, RAND Corporation analyst Bruce Bennett, delivering glowing praise over the film's propaganda value:
“I also thought a bunch more about the ending. I have to admit that the only resolution I can see to the North Korean nuclear and other threats is for the North Korean regime to eventually go away.”
He added, “In fact, when I have briefed my book on ‘preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse’ [Sept 2013], I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.”