White House sources report that the North Korean government was "centrally involved" in the cyber-attack on entertainment giant Sony that has resulted in the leaking of employee information, scripts for upcoming films and confidential email exchanges and in Sony deciding to cancel the release of its upcoming comedy, "The Interview," which features a satirical plot about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jung-un.
Senior officials for the Obama administration, speaking to the New York Times off the record, are debating actually accusing North Korea of an act of cyberterrorism and is“considering a range of options in weighing a potential response,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, tells the newspaper.
Despite the White House report, some are still skeptical about the degree to which North Korea is actually responsible for the attack, with Wired calling the evidence "flimsy," noting that both Sony and the FBI still claim no connection to North Korea in the attack. It's also worth noting, according to Wired's analysis, that the hackers themselves made no reference to North Korea until after media outlets had made the connection between the attack and the release of "The Interview."
Sony decided Wednesday to cancel all release plans of "The Interview" following decisions by five major theater chains opting out of showing the film. The decisions were all in response to new threats hinting at terrorist attacks against movie theaters that went ahead and screened the film when it was to be released Dec. 25. "Remember the 11th of September, 2001," the threat read. "The world will be full of fear."
Reactions from those in the entertainment industry were swift and critical of the decision.
Canceling "The Interview" seems like a pretty horrible precedent to set.— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) December 17, 2014
This only guarantees that this movie will be seen by more people on Earth than it would have before. Legally or illegally all will see it.— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) December 17, 2014
Saw @Sethrogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 17, 2014
THE INTERVIEW is now poised to shatter the world record for "spite viewings."— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 17, 2014
Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 17, 2014
Man, "The Interview" better be pretty funny, cuz there's no way I'm not watching it now.— Joss Whedon (@josswhedon) December 18, 2014
Meanwhile, theAlamo Drafthousetheater chain and others had elected to offer screenings of the 2004 comedy "Team America: World Police" in place of "The Interview," but those plans were scrapped after Paramount, which owns the film, decided to not make it available.
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter:@nedrick