In the weeks since the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, mainstream media outlets have consistently shared photos and video clips of the violence and destruction that ensued.
As recent reports indicate, one activist currently facing criminal charges related to actions during the incident was paid thousands of dollars by major news outlets for video footage he obtained at the scene.
Self-described journalist John Sullivan is also believed to be aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the New York Post.
A controversial track record
Despite his claims that he was in D.C. to report on the mayhem, prosecutors say Sullivan was an active participant based on the allegation that he climbed through a broken window of the Capitol building.
He is also accused of encouraging rioters to go further in their criminal behavior, including through remarks caught on camera, such as, “We’ve got to get this s*** burned.”
One of the newsworthy video clips he was able to record was the fatal shooting of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt by a Capitol police officer. His attorneys are pointing to the fact that he was subsequently compensated for the footage as evidence that he was at the Capitol to capture the events unfolding there.
Sullivan’s lawyers say that he sold the video of the shooting to CNN and NBC for $35,000 each.
“Informed staff to cease all use of the video”
In a statement from CNN, the network claimed that it was “contacted by a reputable agent regarding an eye-witness video from the Capitol Hill riots.”
The media outlet further asserted that it “entered into a one-week agreement for use of 44-seconds of key content, which was attributed to the witness on air.”
Upon discovering that Sullivan’s “role in the event was later called into question,” CNN declared that it “informed staff to cease all use of the video.”
Beyond his alleged involvement in last month’s riot, critics have pointed to Sullivan’s apparent association with various Antifa-related movements. For example, he has been identified as the founder of Insurgence USA, a self-described anti-fascist group that supports protests against law enforcement.
His actual political views, however, remain unconfirmed, with some reports suggesting that he is seen by various far-left activists as a saboteur and scam artist. Prosecutors have sought to have his profiles banned from social media, but a judge denied that request as part of a decision that ordered him to curtail all activities related to Insurgence USA, according to Politico.