A fictitious reporter named Kacey Montagu fooled the White House press corps and ultimately the Biden Administration by claiming to be a member of the White House Correspondents Association and a reporter for the Daily Mail.
“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,” Montagu responded when asked why the posturing was necessary, according to Politico.
Montagu fooled the White House press corps, relaying questions to White House press secretary Jen Psaki at least four times in recent weeks by using coronavirus protocols as a way of concealing from fellow reporters his or her identity, as White House reporters agreed to ask questions of Psaki on behalf of Montagu.
Since late last year, Montagu, whose identity has yet to be fully revealed but is rumored to be an 18-year-old law student from the United Kingdom, used a fictitious outlet named “White House News” or “WHN,” along with creating “two real-life Twitter handles, which are followed by some top White House officials and journalists.”
Politico believes much of Montagu’s online persona is folklore per online acquaintances, yet there is evidence Montagu’s effort at transparency “began as something to boast about in the online global gaming platform called ROBLOX,” where users nickname themselves “Legos.”
Within that platform is a role-playing group called nUSA, where people from across the world engage in a mock U.S. government exercise. At one point, Montagu had adopted the role of Secretary of State but resigned from that job after — as they recalled — ‘the [nUSA] President went to war with some U.K. and I thought it was a pretty bad idea!’
Montagu’s actions are far more serious than his or her attempt to be popular within the gaming world.
This is almost as nuts as the homeless guy pretending to be a USC football player. https://t.co/WK1ZlNpBTr
— Seema (@LATSeema) April 10, 2021
For instance, Montagu’s scheme to create transparency included filing Freedom of Information Act requests, obtaining personal financial disclosure forms on Psaki and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and emailing questions to White House communications aides and to President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris with praiseworthy notes about “how cool their roles must be.”
Montagu also sent emails to White House reporters while they were in the briefing room to solicit answers from Psaki. Politico reports Montagu wrote to reporters White House News “could not be present ‘due to social distancing regulations,’ before asking that a question be asked on their behalf.”
Montagu wrote to the White House press pool:
Recently the White House has had read outs of calls and has the name of the people saying ‘Senior Administration official’ so why isn’t the White House releasing the names of people in the calls, making these comments so that they can be held accountable to the American people?
The White House reporters simply trusted Montagu’s Twitter-run accounts, named @WHSchedule and @WHPoolReport, that mimicked the White House’s color scheme, due to Montagu’s reliable content that reporters find useful, such as daily schedules.
Montagu told Politico, “I created them as some fun but also to ensure that people know what is going on — they should be able to know what POTUS and V.P. is doing and I think the account following shows people are interested in that.”
Montagu’s transparency ruse was discovered Thursday when a reporter from the Washington Blade asked a question suggested by Montagu, whereby Mediaite caught whiff of the ploy and began questioning the origin of the question.
“How involved is former President Obama and First Lady Obama in the Biden – Harris administration?” Chris Johnson asked Psaki before explaining his question came from a colleague. “Is President Biden seeking to bring back the often bipartisan portrait unveiling events at the White House?”
Psaki answered the question, but the effort at transparency was ending.
Google and Twitter were alerted, and the game was over. Twitter handle @WHschedule was “suspended for mimicking the White House’s color scheme.” Montagu’s Google and Linkedin profile pages also vanished.