On March 3, One America News accused FBI Director Christopher Wray of “either staggering incompetence or willful deceit” for testifying that the FBI has seen no evidence to date of “people subscribing to antifa” being involved in the January 6 insurrection.
The report, performed by correspondent Pearson Sharp, used the arrest of a man widely denounced by left-wing activist groups to try to prove the lie that anti-fascists led the attack on the Capitol.
Sharp’s report primarily focused on the FBI arrest of Utah man John Sullivan, whom OAN labeled “the radical, left-wing, anti-Trump, self-proclaimed antifa member who led crowds into the Capitol on January 6 … to start a revolution and remove President Trump from office by force.” Sullivan was at the Capitol, and he may or may not have called himself “antifa” at one point, but local anti-fascist and Black Lives Matter movements ostracized Sullivan before and after the insurrection, and tried to warn allied groups about his apparent unprincipled opportunism.
The Intercept interviewed various BLM and anti-fascist activists who were previously acquainted with Sullivan, revealing a picture of a marginal personality who is said be “living in a fantasy land,” “shows up for attention,” and is “not welcome in leftist activist spaces.” Activists have talked privately and posted publicly about Sullivan’s “deceptive, dangerous and daft” behavior, including sharing a rally stage with the Proud Boys, leading some to conclude that “Sullivan has no real political convictions and is simply exploiting movements for racial justice and against fascism for personal gain.” The Intercept also reviewed Sullivan’s footage of the insurrection and concluded it was “obvious that he was not leading but following the rioters as they made their way through police lines into the Capitol.”
Even though Sullivan has long been unwelcome from protest groups in at least four states, his presence at the Capitol attack and prior claim to be involved with “antifa” (a claim which CNN incorrectly reported on January, and which Sullivan also renounced after the insurrection) has fueled the lie that anti-fascist activists led the attack on the Capitol to make Trump supporters look bad. This lie was born while the insurrection was still ongoing, and Sullivan’s arrest on January 14 fueled a new wave of essentially the same conspiracy theory -- a wave that the attention-desperate One America News is apparently still riding.