A left wing activist known as “Activist John” was paid thousands of dollars each by major media outlets for his self-recorded footage during the attack on the Nation’s Capitol. “Activist John” was later charged for his role in the riot.
Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Washington Tuesday showed that John Sullivan, AKA “Activist John” was paid $35,000 each by CNN and NBC for his footage that he obtained while posing as a pro-Trump supporter during the January 6, 2021 uprising.
Sullivan’s footage included the moment that a Capitol police officer shot and killed protester Ashli Babbitt when other protesters and she tried smashed glass and tried to enter the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway that would have given them access to the House of Representatives chamber.
In his claims, Sullivan maintained that he was recording footage as a journalist for his website, but prosecutors countered his statements by arguing that he was not only actively participating in the attack but also encouraging it.
While videotaping the events inside the Capital, Sullivan recorded himself saying, “We gotta get this s— burned. It’s our house, motherf——ers. We are getting this s—.”
Sullivan later sold the footage to several news outlets including CNN, NBC, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
While a CNN spokesman issued a statement that CNN had informed its staff to cease all use of the video after Sullivan’s “role in the event was later called into question,” but NBC did not immediately respond to media inquiries about their purchase of the video.
Sullivan was eventually arrested on federal charges of knowingly entering a restricted area, violent entry, disorderly conduct, and interfering with law enforcement.
While Sullivan’s defense attorney maintains his client is a legitimate journalist, prosecutors argued he was a “brazen, vocal” participant in the riot with U.S. Attorney Candice Wong writing:
“The defendant, according to his own video footage, apparently exhorted others to ‘burn this (expletive) down,’ ‘break that (expletive),’ and — amid the smashing of the speaker’s lobby doors — ‘Go! Go! Get this (expletive)!’ He celebrated the breach of the Capitol as ‘revolutionary history.’ He boasted of how ‘it’s only a little jail time … I do this all the time.’”