There has been plenty of competition for absurd stories lately, but earlier this week it was revealed in a Politico report that a Roblox player pretending to be a journalist managed to work their way into the White House press corps and ask four questions to Joe Biden’s press secretary.
Going by the outlet White House News (which doesn’t exist) and the name Kacey Montagu (not a real person), this resourceful gamer managed to convince people that they were a member of the White House Correspondents Association and reportedly took part in COVID-19 response Zoom briefings. This ruse lasted for months before they were found out, their absence from the physical briefing room being explained by pandemic regulations. According to their friends cited in Politico’s piece, Montagu’s desire to get into this position started as “something to boast about” in the video game Roblox, but clearly escalated quite quickly.
Settling into their new overnight career, Montagu had reportedly asked to become a legitimate pool reporter and created a number of Twitter accounts through which they communicated with other government reporters, courting follows from presidential advisors and secretaries. The questions they asked weren’t unbecoming of a typical journalist either – they were in fact pretty serious, touching on ambassadorships, travel bans and the president’s response to a recent Microsoft hack. It was all going swimmingly until they were found out as other journalists performed a background check on the Montagu persona. Montagu’s Twitter accounts have apparently since been suspended and I imagine their press privileges have been revoked. In the wake of this colossal oddity, a Twitter account called @SecMontagu is claiming to be the official presence of the former White House Roblox reporter, responding in kind to any external writeups about the Kacey Montagu story and sharing small details about the experience.
Intrigued by the story, I reached out to SecMontagu via DM and got some interesting responses about how on earth this could have happened. Just let it be known that you should take the following answers with a precautionary wheelbarrow of salt, as the real Kacey Montagu is yet to be formally unmasked and already coated in quite a few layers of metamodern irony.
According to the SecMontagu account, they started playing Roblox in 2017 and were first led to the game’s political role-playing groups due to an interest in law and politics. Politico’s report says that in particular, they were the Secretary of State in a Roblox simulation of the US government called nUSA, before leaving the role after a disagreement with the virtual POTUS.
As for the basis of their journalist persona, they said that it was apparently part of their Roblox identity. “I’ve had the name ‘Montagu’ for around a year now. On Roblox you have lots of different roleplaying aspects including family names so I became a Montagu,” SecMontagu said. “Coming up with the persona for the press corps, I wanted something I could remember so I went with my Roblox name, Kacey Montagu.
It’s not clear what happens now – they said they haven’t been in touch with any White House officials after getting caught, but did reflect on the absurd aftermath of the situation. Speaking about the briefings they reportedly took part in: “I still receive the invite links to them on Zoom – it’s pretty weird being on a call with lots of real journalists and the COVID-19 task force at the White House – I tried to ask questions however they only select about 3 or 4 each time,” SecMontagu said.
As for the actual length of the risky ruse, SecMontagu was frank: “It took from January 20th to April 10th to actually work out I am a LEGO character,” they said. In spite of the clear opportunity, they were unwilling to compromise their situation, and as such they never considered “any memey questions,” opting to keep up the facade where possible.
SecMontagu said that they would have loved to have gotten verified on Twitter from the situation and “go in the briefing room to ask questions myself” before they had their wings clipped. They also insist Biden could “learn a thing” from Roblox and its political role-playing communities, where the Kacey Montagu character was born.
Naturally, SecMontagu also thinks that there should be more focus and checking of where questions are coming from during presidential press briefings, but hopes in the future that the public may be able to pitch in alongside the WHCA just like they did.
SecMontagu said they do want to “keep the doors open” to doing actual journalism in the future, as the experience made them realise that the vocation is one that allows people to “hold leaders accountable.” Alas, fake Roblox reporter Kacey Montagu never got to pitch Joe Biden a hardball question directly, but if this odd infiltration was never uncovered, who knows what kind of hard-hitting journalism could have been uncovered…