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Sony Entertainment Speaks Out on Hacking Issue; Restoring U.S.- Cuba Relations; Michele Bachmann Leaving Congress

Aired December 19, 2014 - 20:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, John Berman sitting in for Anderson tonight.

And tonight, a CNN exclusive. Sony finally speaks. Our interview in the middle of the cyber hacking drama over the movie comedy that sparked a real life showdown between the United States and North Korea.

Today, at the White House, President Obama blamed North Korea for hacking into Sony Picture's computer network and threatening another 9/11 if Sony released "the Interview," Seth Rogen, James Franco send- up of Kim Jong-Un. The president promise the United States would respond which would make headlines. This, however, is what really got people talking. The president criticized Sony for canceling the release of the film.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sony's a corporation. It, you know, suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all of that, yes, I think they made a mistake.


BERMAN: Sony made a mistake, he said. Now, it's not often that a president singles out a company or a person, for that matter, or really speaks this bluntly.


OBAMA: I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them, do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.


BERMAN: A lot of people do share this view. Sony is getting a lot of heat from heavy hitters outside of the White House as well. And now, only on CNN, the company is hitting back.

Today, Sony entertainment CEO Michael Lynton sat down exclusively with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: The president said Sony made a mistake in pulling the film. Did you make a mistake?

MICHAEL LYNTON, CEO, SONY ENTERTAINMENT: No. I think, actually, the unfortunate part is in this instance, the president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened. We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters. So to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyber attack in American history and persevered for 3.5 weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty. And all with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running and get this movie out into the public.

When it came to the crucial moment, when a threat came out from what was called the GOP at the time, threatening audiences who would go to the movie theaters, the movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time. We were completely surprised by it and announced they would not carry the movie. At that point in time, we had no alternative but to not proceed with the theatrical release on the 25th of December. And that's all we did.

ZAKARIA: So you have not caved.

LYNTON: We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie.

ZAKARIA: Why not release it online in some form or the other, video on demand?

LYNTON: There are a number of options open to us and we have considered those and are considering them. As it stands right now, while there have been a number of suggestions that we go out there and deliver this movie digitally or through VOD, there has not been one major VOD, video on demand, distributor or one major e-commerce site that stepped up and said they are willing to distribute this movie for us.

Again, we don't have that direct interface with the American public, so we need to go through an intermediary to do that.

ZAKARIA: Mitt Romney said why not put it on You Tube and let the world see it?

LYNTON: That's certainly an option and that's certainly one thing that we will consider. But again, all of this transpired so quickly that we're trying to weigh the options as to how we can get this, how to go forward with all of this.

We were taken by surprise by the theaters, which is what we wanted to do first and now we're trying to proceed and figure out what the next step should be.

ZAKARIA: The president says he wishes, I wish they had talked to me. What is your response? LYNTON: My response is that a few days ago, I personally did reach

out and speak to senior folks in the White House. And talked to them about the situation and actually informed them that we needed help. The FBI has been with us now for several weeks and has been great, but I did reach out and explain the situation to them at that time.

ZAKARIA: So the president is wrong when he says that you did not reach out to him?

LYNTON: Well, I don't -- when he's asking about reaching out.

ZAKARIA: I wish they would talk to me first.

LYNTON: Right. So, we definitely spoke to senior adviser or senior advisor in the White House to talk about the situation. The fact is, did we talk to the president himself? And talk to him about what was transpiring as the theaters started pulling back and being unwilling to distribute the movie? No, but the White House was certainly aware of the situation.

ZAKARIA: Not only did the theaters all pull out, but you couldn't get any of the major Hollywood studios to support you. George Clooney writes that he put out a petition and tried to get support. He couldn't get a single person to sign it. Have you been surprised at the fact that nobody has been willing to rally around you?

LYNTON: I am surprised, frankly. I mean, I understand on the one hand that my fellow studios and everybody else has their own commercial concerns and they themselves were worried about becoming the target. And it did make this entire enterprise to be a very, very lonely affair. But on the other hand, you know, this is a moment where you would expect the industry to rally around and support you.

ZAKARIA: Is it your estimation that the theater owners panicked because the North Koreans do not appear to have the capacity to launch some kind of major simultaneous or really any significant terror attack in the United States. Why do you think they panicked?

LYNTON: Well, what I can only imagine, homeland security came out that day and said that there was not a viable threat. And my sense of it, having had the conversations with them, there was enormous pressure put on them by the malls, by the shops in the malls, by the surrounding neighborhoods who were also threatened in those emails to say they shouldn't show the picture. And they basically, on the basis of looking at that, they decided that they wouldn't take the picture.

ZAKARIA: Does that mean that DVD release also becomes difficult because you would face the same challenge, which is the Walmarts and the Costcos of the world would have to agree to stock the DVD?

LYNTON: Again, we don't have a direct interface with the American public. So we would require either through online or in a retail situation, we would need distribution. And yet, it's fair to say if we can't find one of those large retailers or many of those large retailers to sell our DVDs, we wouldn't be able to provide them with the interview. ZAKARIA: Is it fair to say, Michael, that your hope and expectation

is that the movie will be seen?

LYNTON: We have always wanted the American public to see this movie. We have worked tirelessly to do so. So absolutely, we would. That's been the primary objective throughout.

ZAKARIA: Michael, let me ask you to go through the sequence of what happened. When did you first realize that you had a problem?

LYNTON: The first time we understood there was an issue with the North Koreans was back in June of last summer when they came forward with various emails and statements and actually, I think, they were in touch with the White House itself and described their disfavor with the movie. At that point in time, we actually reached out to experts at various think tanks, within the state department, to try to get a proper understanding of whether or not there was a problem here and whether or not we were providing a security risk. And we were told that there wasn't a problem here, and so we continued to proceed.

ZAKARIA: Including the U.S. government told you?

LYNTON: The U.S. government told us there wasn't a problem. That's correct.

ZAKARIA: So when you, and people asked, the North Koreans threaten you, why didn't you take it seriously.

LYNTON: We did take it seriously. We went to the people we thought were most expert in the area, people in the U.S. government, people in various think tanks and inquired as to whether or not this would be a problem. And they have told us that it wasn't. And that actually is for the world to see as my stolen emails have been presented in public.

ZAKARIA: There was an email between you and somebody at the (INAUDIBLE) corporation.

LYNTON: And somebody with me and the state department.

ZAKARIA: The state department.


BERMAN: Fascinating. So next, the attack itself. Michael Lynton talks about what it's like to face the kind of cyber assault that his company experienced and he'll lay out the damage that it did.


BERMAN: In part one of Fareed Zakaria's interview with Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, Mr. Lynton pushed back on President Obama's allegation that his company made a mistake pulling the James Franco, Seth Rogen movie that so angered North Korea.

In a moment, we'll hear from Candy Crowley who spoke with the president after that interview and asked him, does he stand by what he says? There is even more of this back and forth.

First though, Michael Lynton on whether Sony will try find an alternative way to get this movie out to viewers. And what it was like to face a cyber attack unlike any that most companies ever have to experience.

Here's part two of Fareed's exclusive interview.


ZAKARIA: You began to experience the cyber attack. What was your response? There was a number of people wonder, why did this happen? Did you have weak malware? Did you not have the kind of cyber security you needed?

LYNTON: No. We had absolutely sufficient cyber security. I mean, both the FBI and (INAUDIBLE), the experts we brought in basically said that the malware was so sophisticated that 90 percent of American businesses would have fallen prey to what happened to us. So no, I don't think we were inadequate at all in our cyber security.

ZAKARIA: So, what that means is that this is at a level, the attack is a level of sophistication that really few companies, perhaps no company would be able to withstand?

LYNTON: That's what I've been given to understand. And as a result, they stole all of our data, wiped our computers clean and then destroyed the computers and the servers, all of which is in the FBI report that came out today.

ZAKARIA: What is your estimate of the damage of that cyber attack to Sony?

LYNTON: We haven't come to an estimate as of yet.

ZAKARIA: But certainly --

LYNTON: It's very significant, yes.

ZAKARIA: You know, there are a lot of people who feel that this movie should never have been made. That you are definitely -- it's a movie about the assassination of a sitting world leader, a country that has nuclear weapons, that it is poor taste, that you should not have made the movie and risk Sony's credibility.

LYNTON: Well, a couple of things. First of all, we made the movie because we thought it was a funny comedy. Second, there's a long history of political satire in film and this clearly falls into the realm. But I would also say that fundamentally isn't the issue here. The issue here is that having made the movie, we feel very strongly that it should have been in theaters for the American public to be seen and we did everything in our power to make that happen. We did not cave. We did not back down. And we continued in that pursuit right up until the end.

ZAKARIA: How damaging has it been that your emails, your personnel records are out there in the open?

LYNTON: You know, it's hurtful to everybody at Sony Pictures. Everybody and by the way, many folks who work with us outside of Sony Pictures. That part has been damaging and hurtful. It's not nice to have your emails exposed to the general public. It has had a real effect on the morale of the company and many people are frightened because of it. We'll recover. We've worked very, very hard to do so and we're in the process now.

ZAKARIA: You are well known as somebody who's supported President Obama.


ZAKARIA: Were you disappointed in what you heard today?

LYNTON: I would be fibbing to say I wasn't disappointed. I, you know, the president and I haven't spoken. I don't know exactly whether he understands the sequence of events that led up to the movies not being shown in the movie theaters. And therefore, I would disagree with the notion that it was a mistake. It's a generally held view by the public and the press that that's what happened and maybe that's how that view was held by him. But knowing, as I do, the facts and how they've unfolded, you know, we stood extremely firm in terms of making certain that this movie would appear in movie theaters.

ZAKARIA: Do you feel that the U.S. government, the FBI in particular and I gather you've been in touch with other agencies, the CIA, the NSA, have they been helpful, are you happy with the kind of cooperation you've gotten?

LYNTON: The vast majority of the interactions have been with the FBI and they have been absolutely spectacular throughout. They came and stayed with us for the entire period. They came to a resolution as to who was responsible for this in a record amount of time. I can't speak more highly of the agency than that. They were really the folks who we were in touch with in this process.

ZAKARIA: Would you make the movie again?

LYNTON: Yes. I would make the movie again. I think, you know, for the same reasons we made it in the first place, it's a funny comedy. It served as political satire. I think we would have made the movie again. I, knowing what I know now, might have done something slightly differently. But I think a lot of events have overtaken us in a way that we had no control over the facts.

ZAKARIA: And you're saying you still want the public to see this movie.

LYNTON: We would still like the public to see this movie. Absolutely. We have to explore options as to how that might happen because while everybody comes forward and says, release it digitally, do it on VOD, do this, do that. All of these things in their own way complicated. Many people don't want to come near the movie because they fear that in some way, shape or form, their systems, their servers might be infected with the malware that came to us.

So, you know, it's not for -- what we need to do now is to evaluate the best way forward for all of us. And that's what we're in the process of doing.

ZAKARIA: You've been at Sony Pictures for a while. You've been at penguin press. Is this a dangerous blow against freedom of expression?

LYNTON: It is. You know, I came to Penguin a few years after the publication of Rashid's book, that was published. And in that instance, it was a very -- for one thing, it was pre 9/11, obviously, but even there with the Fatwa and actually some people killed in that instance, there were, the entire industry came together around Penguin. The publishers, the book sellers always stocked the book and the authors all came out and supported the book.

That did not happen in this instance. In this instance, we stood alone in trying to get a movie out. I think now, part of the reason for that I suspect is because of the conversation got caught up in all of the emails. Many of them were deeply unfortunate. A lot of them involved celebrities and people didn't understand what the real issue at stake was. And the real issue at stake was you have -- we now discover it's North Korea, but we had a group of individuals who were hell bent on making certain this movie not show up in movie theaters and we were hell bent on making sure it did show up in movie theaters. And we were hell bent on making certain that it did show up in the movie theaters.

ZAKARIA: Somebody asked the president in his news conference, would he watch the movie, are you going to send it to him?

LYNTON: If the president wants to see the movie, I would be more than delighted to send it to him. It would be my pleasure.


BERMAN: Fareed Zakaria will have much more with Michael Lynton on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and in a 1:00 P.M. eastern on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." That's right here on CNN.

Up next, Fareed joins us to talks about this exclusive interview, also senior media correspondent Brian Stelter on how this film may, may get released after all.


BERMAN: President Obama today essentially mocked North Korea for getting so bent out of shape over what is, after all, a pretty lightweight movie. It's a stoner comedy. He also underscored how serious the hack attack really was. This cyber terror event and then a massive theft followed by a real life terror threat, all allegedly owned by a sovereign state and at nuclear power to boot. There are so many dimensions to this one. Geopolitical, military, and criminal, at the heart of it all, it's really about freedom of speech. Here to talk about this, Fareed Zakaria, who had the fascinating

exclusive interview today, also Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" this Sunday on CNN. Also joining us documentary filmmaker James Jones, producer/director of "Secret State of North Korea," which airs on PBS' front line.

And Fareed, this was a fascinating interview for many reasons. It is not often you see a CEO get in a tit for tat discussion with the president of the United States over whether something was a mistake or not a mistake. It looked like he had been through a lot. He looked like the weight of the world on your shoulders.

ZAKARIA: Look. You can buy it. He is having, he said, the worst cyber attack in American history, which is probably the worst attack in recorded history. They had a threat, an actual threat of terrorism, recalling 9/11, telling them if you show this movie, we're going to do something like that. And he then found himself abandoned by every other movie studio, by all the movie theaters. You know, he couldn't get anybody in terms of the pipes, whether you're trying to do a video on demand. So he was standing alone, trying to figure out how to get this movie to the public. I mean, must be, this is going to be taught in crisis management classes in the future.

BERMAN: So Fareed, abandoned by the other film companies, massive companies and the movie theaters themselves. And also seemed to suggest that maybe a little letdown by the White House. The president said he should have called me. But Michael Lynton said what? We were in communication with the White House.

ZAKARIA: Yes, I was surprised by that. I was also surprised by the president, frankly, making light of this. This is very simple. A quasi factious state in North Korea threaten a terrorist attack on the United States. If a work of art be shown and they have won.

I think the president should focus on that point and what the United States government is going to do in response. That's the crucial issue. Not whether the movie is funny and whether the president likes Seth Rogen.

BERMAN: So Brian, there was also some claims in that interview. Michael Lynton saying we can't find anyone just now to get this movie out. The movie theaters won't do it. Getting it out digitally. It's not simple as everyone seems to say. Is that really the case? What about (INAUDIBLE)? Don't they own (INAUDIBLE)? What about PlayStation? Don't they own PlayStation?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: They do. And I think the answers are changing as we speak. I think as we are talking right now, discussions are happening with potential distributors. Netflix is not commenting, You Tube is not back to me but those are the kind of obvious choices.

But you raise a very important point, John. They owned a couple of the possible ways to get this movie out. Crackle is an online streaming site, not popular as Google or Netflix. They don't buy Sony. They could put it online there. The problem is there's no way to charge money for the movie there and they need to charge money for this.

Now, they do also have the PlayStation store. And I haven't gotten a good answer why they couldn't put it there. But I think they probably want to have somebody in their corner. I mean, that's what I got Fareed from their conversation. They want to have somebody backing them up. They are not totally alone.

BERMAN: And no one is. Perhaps after the president came out publicly and said, this movie should have been out there, maybe some of these other film companies in Hollywood.


STELTER: I was very surprised if we don't see the movie at this point. I'd be very surprised if we don't.

ZAKARIA: I mean, the sense I got was that Michael Lynton and Sony intend to release this movie in some form or the other, relatively soon. I don't think they are talking about six months from now. I think that they are talking about the movie will be seen in some way.


STELTER: Could we see it by Christmas?

BERMAN: It got very, very mediocre reviews. Is that may be generous, too.

James Jones, I want to bring you in here. You do say it was a mistake to have this film. The release cancelled, which it was no matter what Michael Lynton said. I mean, the public released of this film one way or the other was cancelled. Was that company's hands tied though?

JAMES JONES, PRODUCER/DIRECTOR, SECRET STATE OF NORTH KOREA: I mean, I think it's obviously been a very stressful week for them as you said. In the interview, you could tell, he looked a little physically shaken by it. And I think given what the White House and what North Korea watchers know about the regime, you know, they do make these outlandish threats which they don't follow through with. You can understand Obama's kind of despair about this because his whole policy is being strategic patients which is basically not paying attention to the kind of (INAUDIBLE) and letting them so the attempt should make this kind of outlandish threats. And effectively willing to just leave them alone and let them kind of tie themselves out. So then, for this to be undermined, you know, you can see why he is certainly frustrated.

BERMAN: The problem though, if it's a naughty tantrum that then breaks into another major entertainment company and steals more secrets, it could be damaging. So you can see why some of these other companies and other people in Hollywood are scared that it could spread. Let me ask you, because you've studied this so carefully, James, what do you think North Korea is thinking today? What do you think Kim Jong-un is thinking as he watches this all unfolding in the United States? JONES: I think he probably sees this as great propaganda. You know,

I think in his wildest dreams he couldn't have thought that he could have pulled this off. I think, you know, instantly film was about how he has this kind of tight grip on information coming in and out of the country. But that, you know, that's within the country, where you're making a joke about Kim Jong-un could mean you and possibly your whole family being sent off to prison camp. But, you know, for him to actually influence over a major American company, is, you know, beyond anything we've seen before.

BERMAN: Fareed, the interview with Michael Lynton as we said, it was really interesting to see. He has got a lot to deal with right now. Why do you think he decided to speak today finally?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm guessing that what they realized, is, you know, no CEO likes to go out and talk to the public. I think that, you know, and Michael Lynton, as far as I can tell, he's not somebody who wants to attract attention to himself. He's a low key guy, very cerebral, but the narrative that was being formed was that Sony caved. That had become the dominant narrative and I think he was probably watching this and trying to figure out, how do we correct this narrative? And at some point, it becomes so big that unless you go out there and make it, and I think that he probably, by then, he had already decided to do the interview, but the president coming out and saying Sony made a mistake certainly probably helped clarify his mind about the fact that there had been a narrative that was formed incorrect in his view. That's why, if you remember he says the president, the press, and the public all have this wrong.

BERMAN: He said we just don't get it.

ZAKARIA: We don't get it. We've all used the word cave the last days. Brian, among other things, there was another e-mail sent to Sony overnight. Which they gave to you exclusively.

STELTER: I view this as maybe a production of strength by Michael Lynton today, especially in the face of this e-mail that was sent to him and a number of other executives last night. The e-mail effectively said you did the right thing by canceling the movie.

BERMAN: This was from the hackers.

STELTER: This is from ....

BERMAN: The cyber warriors threatening them again.

STELTER: And it basically said you've got to make sure the movie stays off the Internet, don't release it and then we won't share anymore of your private e-mails, we won't share anymore of your data. It was as if the extortion attempt they've gone one step further and I've got to imagine that Sony wants to be viewed as doing anything but giving in to that new attempt.

BERMAN: And maybe as a way to rally people to its cause. And James, let me give you the last word here. In your work with North Korea, and studying North Korea, you actually have been in contact or seen some of these hackers who were on their way to China to be trained. What can you tell us about that?

JONES: So I can't go into too much detail, but we have a source who's filming secretly just across the China border. And he saw some North Korean hackers that we think were a part of this kind of cyber warfare unit called Bureau 121. And, you know, it's a kind of open secret that these guys go across to China to be trained by very sophisticated hackers and it seems from all the evidence that this is what we've seen in this ...

BERMAN: Well, it seems like they're good at what they do and what they are trained at. And look at what they've caused at this point. Fareed Zakaria, Brian Stelter, James Jones. Thanks so much. Fascinating interview, Fareed, fascinating discussion. Appreciate it.

Just ahead, now that Sony's chief executive has had his say, does President Obama stand by what he said earlier about Sony's decision to cancel the release of the interview? Does he still think it was a mistake? CNN's Candy Crowley had a chance to ask.


BERMAN: Tonight's breaking news. A CNN exclusive, Sony finally speaking publicly about its decision to cancel the release of the comedy "The Interview." Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton sat down with CNN's Fareed Zakaria after President Obama flat out called the decision a mistake. Here again is what Mr. Lynton said in response.


MICHAEL LYNTON, CEO, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT: The president, the press, and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened. We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters. So to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyber-attack in American history and persevered for 3.5 weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty.


BERMAN: Now, there's another chapter to this. This afternoon, our chief political correspondent Candy Crowley interviewed President Obama and asked him if he stood by his original remarks about Sony. Candy joins me now.

So Candy, what a strange day. The president takes a swipe at Sony during his news conference and then the head of Sony pictures right here on CNN kind of swipes back suggesting the president doesn't really understand the situation. Now you've had a chance to speak to the president about that. What was his response?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I will tell you, first of all, that it was very clear to me the president did not want to get into an argument with the chairman of Sony, but what he said was, listen. "I wish"-- I told him that the chairman had said that he was disappointed in the president's response and the president didn't really understand what had happened. That really, that this was a decision that Sony wanted to distribute this, but it was the movie theaters that didn't want it and the president said, well, maybe if he'd come to me, I could have called the movie theaters. But he stuck to his original point which was, this is just a bad thing to be doing. I mean, this is the wrong thing to be doing in the face of these threats. We need to stay strong as the Boston Marathon did, et cetera, et cetera.

He said listen, what if this happened to CNN? What if there was - CNN ran some story and there was a threat from North Korea, you can't allow this sort of thing to make America different. It was sort of everything we all - after 9/11. You know, the terrorists will win if we have to change, that kind of thing. So, he stuck to his major point, but I thought he was softer on Sony and really just didn't want to get into a fight with him.

BERMAN: Not the fight he wants to be in heading into his Hawaii holiday.

CROWLEY: Right. Exactly, he was ready.

BERMAN: Did you get any sense from him about what the next step is, though, in dealing with North Korea? Any big announcement heading our way?

CROWLEY: You know, I would suggest we might not get a bigger announcement. Here's why. I asked him if he thought that this was an act of war. That this was an act of cyber terrorism and an act of war and he said, no, he said. It's an act of cyber vandalism. I think that will send some Republicans off the edge, but it seemed to me the kind of, you know, tamp it down a little. And I said, well, why wouldn't we just do a cyber-attack back or why don't we put them back on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism and he said, well, we're looking at that. But he didn't want to talk about what it might mean. As you know, the White House's signal that perhaps the U.S. would not say what it would do.

BERMAN: Coming at cyber vandalism, though, instead of terrorism, clearly trying to lower the temperature on the issue.

CROWLEY: Yes, absolutely.

BERMAN: Now, one thing a lot of people noticed during the news conference today, all the reporters that the president called on were women. I actually didn't notice until someone pointed it out to me, but what was the message you think that the White House was trying to send?

CROWLEY: I didn't either but I mean the White House says, you know, what it was trying to say, was, look, there was all these women here who day in and day out cover this place and so, you know, we wanted the president to call on them and that it was, you know, indeed, a message and a sort of an homage to their hard work. BERMAN: They were all just great reporters as far as I'm concerned.

And the subject of great reporters, Candy's interview with President Obama on Sunday will be on "State of the Union." It is sort of the grand finale for Candy on "State of the Union. And Candy, you know, I've covered campaigns with you in competition with you and now I've had the wonderful opportunity to work in the same company as you and you are one of the sharpest reporters out there and certainly the classiest. So, thank you for everything.

CROWLEY: Ah, John. Thank you very much. I'll miss you, but I'll watch.

BERMAN: Thanks, Candy.

So, there's a lot more that President Obama talked about in his end of the year news conference. Everything from Cuba and the Republican takeover of the Senate. We're going to dig into that when 360 continues.


BERMAN: The Sony computer hacking drama was not the only topic President Obama addressed at his news conference today. For the first time since he announced major changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba, the president took questions from reporters. Cuba's human rights record came up, this is what the president said about that.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I share the concerns of dissidents there and human rights activists. That this is still a regime that represses its people. And as I said when I made the announcement, I don't anticipate overnight changes. But what I know deep in my bones is that if you've done the same thing for 50 years and nothing's changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome.


BERMAN: Whether or not you think it's the right time to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, the decision does stand as historic. So, how might it shape the president's legacy? CNN political analyst David Gergen and Gloria Borger are here to weigh in on that, as well as the showdown that is now underway with North Korea over the movie and Sony's decision to pull it.

So Gloria, there was a lot of news in this news conference today. And it seemed like the president was trying to do a few things with this North Korea Sony story. Number one, he wanted to condemn the North Koreans for being behind this and number two, he wanted to point out very directly that he thought Sony was making a mistake, but number three, he seemed to really try to lower the temperature on the whole crisis, if you will, going out of his way to point out this is all about a Seth Rogan and James Franco movie or as he put it, James Flacco movie. GLORIA BORGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, you know, what he was really

trying to do, I think, is belittle the North Koreans and point out that, for heaven's sake, this was only a Seth Rogan movie as he kind of put it. And this is a comedy. This is a satire. This is not serious. While belittling the North Koreans, he didn't want to belittle the threat or what they had done or the fact that the United States would have what he called, a proportional response at the time of our choosing. So we didn't want to give anything away. He made it clear we're taking it very seriously, and sort of threw up his hands at the North Koreans saying, you know, can you believe this?

BERMAN: David, there were lot of people noticing that the president seemed to have an upbeat performance today. He could have a spring in his step at the podium. He seemed to have a spring in his step, could be he's going for Hawaii for two weeks. We'd all have a spring in our step then, but what did you notice about how he did?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he is very upbeat. He thinks he's - he's into - he thinks of himself as a clutch basketball player. He says this is the fourth quarter, as he said in the press conference today and he really is trying to score some points. And, you know, so he feels his friends on the left are very enthusiastic about the last few weeks since he got the dropping in the midterm elections. He's done all sorts of things that have pleased them, whether it's on immigration or on climate. Now on Cuba. They think he's on a roll. The partisans on the right think he's on the lurch, he's been lurching to the left and using executive actions to do it.

BERMAN: Yeah, either he's bold or imperial depending on how you look at it and which side you're on. And Gloria ...

GERGEN: Exactly.

BERMAN: You know, David brought up the issue of Cuba here which, you know, the fact that the president changed 50 years of history this week ...

BORGER: Right.

BERMAN: And it was the second biggest story of the news conference after North Korea, it's interesting in and of itself, but he's clearly proud of what he did in Cuba.

BORGER: Sure. Look, I think this is a president who feels kind of unshackled now that the midterm elections are over. I think he had to watch himself before the midterm elections because he was worried about all those Democrats in red states and by the way, he didn't really help Democrats in red states by holding back, I might add. Now I think he's got a legacy list and he's checking it off. And, you know, Cuba, he seems very pleased with what he's done. This isn't to say that he isn't going to get trouble from Congress for it, but what's also interesting, what he's done, John, is that he's set the table for the 2016 election. You've seen Republicans on all sides of this now. You know, Rand Paul saying the president did the right thing. Marco Rubio calling him the worst negotiator we've ever seen. Jeb Bush saying, you know, you shouldn't negotiate with a repressive regime, but he's happy to see gross back in this country. So, he's already set up a challenge to Republicans. On the other side, Hillary Clinton will either have to defend him on certain things or move away from him.

BERMAN: She's got to take a stand, though, that's for sure.


BERMAN: David, Gloria mentioned this checklist that the president seems to be going down now, taking care of things that he wants to get done. How much further will he be able to get on that checklist come January when the Republicans take control of the Senate?

GERGEN: That's a very, very good question. I don't think we know how long the list is. My sense is he doesn't, there's not many - there are not many more items that he can go down. But I do think it's quite interesting, that as unshackled, I think Gloria is absolutely right, he's acting like he's unshackled. He's using executive power to the full extent of this presidency. His critics think beyond what the Constitution allows, but in almost every case, what he's showing are his true colors and that is much more to the left in these last few weeks and the bottom line here is that he's done a lot in the last few weeks that have appealed to Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. And that's going to put some pressure on Hillary in defending him to move to her left. And she may be comfortable with that but I think they are probably inside, she would prefer not to be pulled from this direction.

BERMAN: Gloria Borger, David Gergen, thanks so much.

Up next for us, Michele ...


MICHELE BACHMANN: I look incredible. I wear your granddad's clothes. I got $20 in my pocket and I'm going to the thrift shop down the road.


BERMAN: I can't believe I stepped on the most important sound of this broadcast. Michele Bachmann wraps up her career in Congress with a rap.


BERMAN: Representative Michele Bachmann is retiring after eight years in Congress. You know, for one brief moment during the 2012 presidential campaign, she was really a front-runner. She's also famous for her factual challenges and now, perhaps for something extra. Here's Dana Bash.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R) MINNESOTA: I jumped in with both feet and gave it everything I had and I didn't hold back. I wasn't politically correct.

Fighting this tyranny.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Talk about an understatement from Tea Party rallies to the presidential campaign trail to the House floor.

BACHMANN: Obamacare as we know is the crown jewel of socialism.

BASH: Michele Bachmann has been a prominent and polarizing figure, challenging leadership in both parties.

BACHMANN: I don't know who is going to miss me more when I leave Congress. Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner. I have no idea. I've been a thorn, I think, in both of their sides.

BASH: It's hard to believe Bachmann has only been in Congress and on the national scene for eight years. Sometimes making headlines with missteps like erroneously telling Anderson Cooper the president spent $200 million a day on a trip to India.

(on camera): I know you said that you don't have any regrets. But I also know that you are human. You have to have some. You have to this - you have to ...

BACHMANN: Well, I've made mistakes. I've certainly made mistakes.

BASH: Can you do an interview ...

(voice over): I spent a lot of time tracking her down in hallways like after she attacked the president for spending taxpayer dollars on things like dog walkers, which he doesn't.

(on camera): One of the things I'm going to miss, is my workout, trying to keep up with you.


BACHMANN: That's funny. Everybody asks me.

BASH: You move so fast.

BACHMANN: I do walk fast, oh, I run. You've probably seen me. I literally run the hallways in high heels.

BASH: Yeah, I know. Yeah. I've been a part of that. I've witnessed that. I tried to keep up with you huffing and puffing.


BASH: OK, just a little bit, are you going to miss people like me running after you?



BACHMANN: Oh, of course I will. That will be fun.

BASH (voice over): Bachmann often notes she was the only woman on the GOP presidential stage in 2012.

(on camera): Is there still sexism in politics?

BACHMANN: Oh, sure, there is. Are you kidding? Absolutely there is. I'll be frank with you. The way that I see it is that I think that when women speak, I don't think that we're listened to the same way that a man does. I know that I'm in a lot of venues where I'm the only woman, the only woman, and one thing that I notice is that when I walk into the room, the men are talking to each other. When I arrive, they'll talk to each other when I'm leaving and I'll go up to them to try and get into the group and talk with them, but it's different. It's just different.

BASH (voice over): On her way out the door, Bachmann is loosening up showing off hidden talents.

(on camera): I think I have discovered what you're really going to do after Congress. You're going to be a hip-hop rap artist.

BACHMANN: Oh, you found out, oh my secret is out. Totally.

BASH: I nailed it, right?

BACHMANN: Yeah, give me a rap.

BASH: OK, so, come on, give me a wrap.

BACHMANN: I look incredible. I wear your granddad's clothes. I got $20 in my pocket. And I'm going to the thrift shop down the road.

BASH: Anybody got a beat box?


BACHMANN: So, nobody has to worry about competition for me. I tell you that.


BERMAN: Dana Bash joins us now. Dana, she will miss you. She really will. The secret is out here. Who does she want to play here in the movie?

BASH: Well, if there is a Michele Bachmann movie, she wants Kristen Wiig to play her, she, of course, played her on "Saturday Night Live." She likes the way that she made fun of her in a - maybe a loving way.

BERMAN: And Meryl Streep will play the Dana Bash.


BERMAN: Well, Dana, thanks so much for being with us.

BASH: Premiere ...

BERMAN: All right. It has been quite a week. Michele Bachmann, and all these countries, isolation of Cuba ending 52 years after the Cuban missile crisis, which is a chilling moment. You're going to see that right here in an encore edition of the "60s". Tonight's episode, the world on the break.