CNN and NBC each paid $35,000 to accused left-wing Capitol rioter John Sullivan for the rights to footage he captured inside and outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, including video of the fatal shooting of protester Ashli Babbitt by law enforcement, invoices show.
What are the details?
The revelation came during a recent court hearing in which Sullivan — who is charged with provoking violence during the storming of the Capitol last month — avoided being banned on Facebook and Twitter but was ordered by a judge to quit his alleged work as a videographer.
Sullivan, who has described himself as an anti-Trump activist and supporter of Black Lives Matter, maintains that he is a journalist who travels the country filming violent uprisings for Insurgence USA, a media company he claims to have founded earlier in 2020 after the death of George Floyd. To prove claims that he is a professional journalist, Sullivan's defense team filed invoices showing that both CNN and NBC paid Sullivan a hefty amount for footage he captured during the events of Jan. 6.
These are the invoices filed with the court today. https://t.co/JdOZ9pXaIa— Kyle Cheney (@Kyle Cheney) 1613527942.0
But federal prosecutors contend that Sullivan is a provocateur who masquerades as a journalist. According to Politico, during court proceedings, prosecutors have argued that he "actively encourages violence, telling viewers how to make Molotov cocktails and evade identification by police."
In a complaint filed against him by the Department of Justice, prosecutors point to statements Sullivan made during his filming of the Capitol riot, which include, "This s**t is ours! F*** yeah," "We accomplished this s**t. We did this together. F*** yeah! We are all a part of this history," and "Let's burn this s**t down."
In a press release about his arrest, prosecutors allege that "Sullivan, wearing a ballistics vest and gas mask, entered the U.S. Capitol through a window that had been broken out, pushing past U.S. Capitol Police once inside."
He was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct, and interfering with law enforcement engaged in the lawful performance of their official duties. Sullivan has since been hit with an additional charge: obstruction of Congress, Politico noted.
CNN's payment to Sullivan, who admittedly does not have press credentials, stands in contrast to its treatment of credentialed BlazeTV reporter Elijah Schaffer, who also captured footage of the Capitol riot. Last month, CNN launched an investigation into Schaffer to see if there was evidence of wrongdoing on his part.
The network was apparently not nearly as suspicious about Sullivan.
Payments to Capitol Hill “terrorists”: Trump: $0 CNN: $35,000 https://t.co/P37fXZVRLD— Tom Elliott (@Tom Elliott) 1613586879.0
CNN even interviewed Sullivan following the events.
Activist John Sullivan on CNN Anderson Cooper discussing US Capitol riots www.youtube.com