President Obama’s statement at a year-end press conference on Friday in which he said that Sony has set a bad precedent by caving in to North Korean hackers’ demands to pull its movie, “The Interview”, is at odds with his administration’s stance on another movie — “Innocence of Muslims.”
On Friday, Obama said:
“We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a 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 somebody’s sensibilities who probably need to be offended.”
But in 2012, after a terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the White House scrambled to get YouTube to remove “Innocence of Muslims”, a movie which the administration believed may have helped spark the uprising which killed four Americans, including Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens.
Days after the attack, the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama administration officials had contacted YouTube to request that the video website take down the movie, which many Muslims found offensive.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” a YouTube spokesman told the Times in a statement, while refusing to comment on the Obama administration’s request. “This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”
And earlier this year, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released communications showing that the White House reached out to YouTube to request the movie’s removal.
“White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advice ramification of the posting of the Pastor Jon video,” one White House email read, according to Issa, ABC News reported.