Earlier in the day, the FBI announced they had determined that the North Korean government was behind the cyberattack that rocked Sony Pictures the week of Thanksgiving and has resulted in a deluge of confidential documents that were leaked online. Sony Pictures canceled the film's theatrical release earlier this week after a number of theater chains decided not to carry the film in light of vague threats to those intending to show the film purportedly posted by the hackers.
"We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said during the press conference. "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 -- or, even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of someone who sensibilities probably need to be offended."
The president said he was "sympathetic" to the situation at Sony Pictures but that he wished the company had spoken to him first before pulling the film.
He said the United States would respond to the cyberattack but declined to elaborate on how and when.