An independent journalist named Kacey Montagu has spent the last few months integrating herself within the White House press corps, lying about her connections to outlets both real and fictional to ask the Biden administration questions during official briefings. But according to Politico, Montagu doesn’t exist outside of a conspiracy organized in Roblox.
“I love journalism, and I think the press corps is doing a pretty bad job at the moment, so I decided I would ensure some transparency and ask some questions me and some friends wanted the answer to,” the person behind the Montagu moniker told Politico via email. They declined to share additional personal information.
Some of Montagu’s fellow Roblox players, however, believe it was a way to gain bragging rights in a political role-playing group known as nUSA, where Montagu formerly served as secretary of state. Montagu described themselves as “socially liberal, economically conservative” while speaking to Politico, a common signifier of libertarian thought that essentially amounts to wanting legalized weed and complete corporate hegemony. According to Mediaite, they’ve also claimed to support a hypothetical Trump presidential campaign in 2024. But as with most online nonsense, it’s hard to parse where the irony ends and reality begins.
In any case, it’s a little shocking how easily Montagu was able to dupe a group of journalists into believing they were legitimate. All it took was setting up Twitter and Linkedin accounts and playing the part of a political correspondent: reposting daily schedules and pool reports, emailing political aides with congratulations on their new positions, and attending virtual briefings. Eventually, Montagu was asking White House reporters to relay questions to press secretary Jen Psaki during press briefings (a common practice in the pool, especially now that covid-19 has limited the number of journalists who can attend these briefings in person).
Montagu began to arouse serious suspicions last week when one of their questions was asked of Psaki by The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, who explained that he was relaying the query from a colleague before seemingly reading an email from Montagu off his phone.
“How involved is former President Obama and First Lady Obama in the Biden-Harris administration?” Johnson asked for Montagu. “Is President Biden seeking to bring back the often bipartisan portrait unveiling events at the White House?” After Psaki’s boilerplate answer, CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe proffered follow-ups about Obama and Biden’s ongoing relationship. This led Mediaite to investigate the question’s source, and the Roblox tower Montagu had built since last year soon fell apart.
Much of Montagu’s online presence has since been wiped from the internet, including the more popular of their two Twitter accounts, @WHSchedule. The social media platform told Politico that the page violated Twitter’s impersonation policy due to cribbing the White House’s color scheme and not making it clear they were unaffiliated with the government.
Accurately deciphering Montagu’s goals is difficult. While they say it was out of frustration with the questions asked of the current administration, it’s odd they would suddenly be interested in the president’s personal relationships and vague notes on who he’s meeting with after the transition from Trump to Biden. Far be it from me to defend the craven and access-driven reporters of the White House press pool, but weren’t these also issues when Mr. Make America Great Again was in office?