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Kodee Kennings, meet Kaycee Nicole
August 26, 2005 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Kodee Kennings, meet Kaycee Nicole. For two years the Daily Egyptian, the college paper of Southern Illinois University, published a column written by a young girl whose father was serving in Iraq. Two weeks ago, Sgt. Dan Kennings was reported killed in an attack on his Humvee, and the Chicago Tribune sent its reporters to cover the memorial service. Instead, they uncovered an hoax even grander in scale than one close to this site.
posted by holgate (73 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Follow-up and mea culpa from the Daily Egyptian.
posted by holgate at 6:39 AM on August 26, 2005


"Reynolds alleged that the scheme was Brenner's idea. She also said she fell in love with Brenner, making it that much harder for her to stop the lie."
"Jesus Christ, that is completely not true," Brenner said when he heard about the allegations."

Wow. What makes people do this shit? At least it makes for great stories...
posted by klangklangston at 6:50 AM on August 26, 2005


And why wouldn't the Egyptian try to contact the DoD at least once to get an interview with this guy? It'd be print gold!
posted by klangklangston at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2005


What is with these stupid "K" names?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 6:51 AM on August 26, 2005


Stupid stupid registration newspaper sites. I know, bugmenot, but imtoolazy.
posted by OmieWise at 6:53 AM on August 26, 2005


darn, registration req at kansascity.com
posted by dabitch at 6:54 AM on August 26, 2005


Okay. This is MESSED UP.

That's uh... all I got.
posted by selfnoise at 6:54 AM on August 26, 2005


This is amazing stuff -- much more elaborate than Kaycee. I think because of the Iraq connection and the public mood ("support the troops!"), we will see a criminal prosecution here.
posted by Mid at 6:54 AM on August 26, 2005


Google news has some more, and I think will let you read the Kansas story without reg.
posted by Mid at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2005


bugmenot for Chicago Tribune: pete7890@hotmail.com / pete7890
posted by peacay at 6:56 AM on August 26, 2005


This blog has uncovered the article that introduced Kodee. The writer uses this cute little girl as a tool to bash anti-war protestors. Warning: may make you puke.
posted by barjo at 6:57 AM on August 26, 2005


At least it makes for great stories...

I'll agree with that, but it's a shame though, that an actual child was really involved in this deception.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 7:00 AM on August 26, 2005


No registration required
posted by caddis at 7:06 AM on August 26, 2005


Here are a couple cached "Kodee" columns. Also a blog entry by an apparent victim of the hoax.

What's remarkable is how much the real-life child was apparently used in the hoax. The first linked article describes the kid dropping by the newspaper several times and talking with the reporters on the phone.
posted by Mid at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2005


How could so many people (the parents, the newspaper) be so clueless for so long? Just the girl's descriptions of the "filming" would make me wonder.

I'm reserving judgment on Brenner for the time being. He had more at stake personally than the others. Reynolds, on the other hand, had better get used to idea of prison.
posted by tommasz at 7:14 AM on August 26, 2005


Likely no prision unless she took money, I would think.

The second article I linked above seems to implicate Brenner pretty deeply.
posted by Mid at 7:17 AM on August 26, 2005


[insert liberal snark concerning total lack of surprise about someone lying in support of the war]

Also, after reading the Chicago Tribune article, at least one person somewhere seems to be very confused about the definition of "documentary."
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:23 AM on August 26, 2005


Picture of the kid in this story. Crazy.
posted by Mid at 7:23 AM on August 26, 2005


Koly Krap!
posted by Mr Bluesky at 7:24 AM on August 26, 2005


From Mid's second link:

An avid Saluki fan, Kodee loves SIU, but she hates seeing "no war" scrawled on the walls of Faner and becomes confused when reading slogans such as "Bush is the Devil."

To Kodee, Bush is her father's boss and she does not understand why people think he is evil. She has also has a very difficult time understanding the war protesters and has begun to fear them the way most kids fear the boogeyman or monsters.

She calls them "the bad people," and is convinced they are going to come to her house at night to hurt her or camp out on the lawn and make her father not want to come home.


Homemade propaganda; it's just another way you can support the troops.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:30 AM on August 26, 2005


*agrees wholeheartedly with OmieWise*

What's "bugmenot"?
posted by Eyebeams at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2005


http://bugmenot.com
posted by caddis at 7:36 AM on August 26, 2005


Also, after reading the Chicago Tribune article, at least one person somewhere seems to be very confused about the definition of "documentary."

Um, you mean the little girl? (Actually, documentaries often do reenactments).

---

Anyway, you have to be amazed at this woman. What a performance! Telling people they were in a 'movie', making them fool other people unwittingly? That takes a lot of balls. Unethical? Of course, and the fact that one of her 'accomplices' was a child is sort of creepy.

But still, if someone had managed to do something like this with uptight republicans, you know, you'd probably think it was kind of funny.

I wonder how much of the 'omg, really, that’s what I was doing?' from the 'actors' is real, and how much is just trying to get out of getting caught.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 AM on August 26, 2005


A college paper printed this stories.

Don't school newspapers make everything up?
posted by tapeguy at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2005


I think because of the Iraq connection and the public mood ("support the troops!"), we will see a criminal prosecution here.

Not to argue with you but it's a school paper, right? Isn't this along the lines of plagiarism? Was there any criminal intent?
posted by nervousfritz at 7:40 AM on August 26, 2005


This entire thread confuses me. There can be only one response. DESTROY. My monkey hindbrain demands it.
posted by loquacious at 7:45 AM on August 26, 2005


On Thursday, 10-year-old Caitlin Hadley sat between her parents on a couch in her mom's office, retelling the two-year odyssey that began with her belief that she was going to be the star of a documentary film about a little girl named Kodee.

"It was sort of weird, but I had a lot of fun," Caitie said.


Heh.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2005


I'm guessing there is a federal statute against impersonating a member of the armed forces. That would be one hook for a prosecution.

If the hoaxers took anything of value (money, gifts, etc.) from the dupes, fraud charges could apply.

The use of the child in the hoax might support child-welfare type charges: endangering a child, etc.

I'm sure clever (and angry) prosecutors could think of more.

That a school newspaper was involved doesn't changes anything. All of the above charges would apply or not apply regardless of whether/where the stories were published.
posted by Mid at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2005


Actually, documentaries often do reenactments

That's true, although why would you reenact something that was going on right now? I mean, if the whole point is to show a girl whose father is in Iraq, why not use the actual girl? Didn't this strike anybody as odd?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:47 AM on August 26, 2005


"This really chaps me a little bit," Trovillion said. "That ain't no way to treat our armed forces."

Of course none of this compares the hoax perpetrated by the Bush administration. That ain't no way to treat the armed forces either.
posted by three blind mice at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2005


the part that gives me pause is that if she'd never claimed the soldier died in iraq, i don't believe anyone would have ever figured it out
posted by pyramid termite at 7:56 AM on August 26, 2005


To Kodee, Bush is her father's boss and she does not understand why people think he is evil.

She has obviously never had a job.
posted by drezdn at 8:00 AM on August 26, 2005


This post made me go back and read all the Kaycee Nicole stuff all over again. Good times.
posted by JanetLand at 8:03 AM on August 26, 2005


The love subplot is really interesting!
posted by johngoren at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2005


this whole thing is insane. I haven't finished reading all the linked material, but am I correct in understanding that either:

a. Brenner convinced reynolds to convince a family to pretend that their daughter is the daughter of a dead mom and an army dad and to do so to THE PRESS

or b. Reynolds convinced a family to pretend that their daughter is the daughter of a dead mom and an army dad, and also convinced THE PRESS to believe it?!

I mean, this isn't JUST fraud. The bigger a lie is, the harder it is to keep people convinced. This story was a complete fabrication from top to bottom with absolutely zero evidence, and it depended (according to the people involved) on the acting ability and willingness to participate of people who weren't let in on the whole thing! Am I the only one who thinks this sounds almost completely implausible? Not only did the press need to be convinced, but they needed to be convinced by people who thought they were acting in a documentary! I mean, didn't the lack of cameras tip anyone off?

Maybe I'm just tired and unable to sleep, but this whole thing just sounds like we're not getting the whole story. Either money was changed hands in weird ways people don't want to admit or something else, but the idea that a whole family would go along with lying to the press for yeas based on the idea that they're acting in a documentary, and that the press would believe it... I don't know. it sticks in my craw is what it does. my craw... craw...
posted by shmegegge at 8:05 AM on August 26, 2005


furthermore, if you think you're acting, you do things like step out of character for a moment every now and then. How do you keep up a charade like that for YEARS, without once saying anything revealing, when you don't even know you're supposed to be lying to the people you're talking to? How do the parents not realize that no documentary reenactment involves that much improvised bullshitting to the press?
posted by shmegegge at 8:09 AM on August 26, 2005


Speaking of strange money, check out this Archive.org Kodee column in which editors claim "She has also become quite an entrepreneur, building up a sizable stack of cash...The source of that money is confidential, but she said she plans on using it to bring her father home"

What do they mean, that she was flashing wads of it around the newsroom?
posted by johngoren at 8:11 AM on August 26, 2005


This is great stuff. Your best entertainment value.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 AM on August 26, 2005


Another money reference. Seems pretty small time, though.
posted by Mid at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2005


Well said, shmegegge. This is even fishier than it first appeared. Heck, I'd even say this is fishier than this, and that's saying a lot.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:32 AM on August 26, 2005


Agreed, M. Going by what's in your link, the money seems to be there just for the sake of various totally unbelievable Shirley Temple antics. Someone was really pushing it!
posted by johngoren at 8:32 AM on August 26, 2005


Some people just ... ugh.

Karma can't work fast enough.
posted by bhance at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2005


She has also has a very difficult time understanding the war protesters and has begun to fear them the way most kids fear the boogeyman or monsters.

She calls them "the bad people," and is convinced they are going to come to her house at night to hurt her or camp out on the lawn and make her father not want to come home.

Every night, Matt and Colleen have to check under Kodee's bed and in the closet for "the bad people."
Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!
posted by rafter at 8:47 AM on August 26, 2005


And Kodee? You need to get a job cause God don't make no junk!

woot-woot-woot!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:53 AM on August 26, 2005 [1 favorite]


In summer 2004, Trovillion, posing as Dan Kennings, visited the Daily Egyptian newsroom, thanking the staff for taking care of his daughter while he was in Iraq.

"I am absolutely floored by this," Trovillion said. "It really does piss me off."


I find this guy's indignation just a little much. If someone asked me to act as/pose as another person, go into a newspaper and work the room, interact with people who are pretty clearly in the dark about who I really am, I would start asking some pointed questions. He either had a part in the con, or is extremely naive.
posted by deadcowdan at 9:09 AM on August 26, 2005


monstir. terrist.
posted by trondant at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2005


I'm with tapeguy. It's a college newspaper. If they printed "the sky is blue", I'd go outside and check for myself before I believed it.

(Same thing goes for most "professional" papers, too.)
posted by Potsy at 9:30 AM on August 26, 2005


People didn't doubt because they didn't want to doubt. The big thing this and Kacee have in common is that people see the best of themselves in the young ladies bravery, and in the case of Kodee, spouting the same simplistic bunting hanging rhetoric they espouse.
posted by Megafly at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2005


Why do I get the feeling that my spelling was better than that when I was 7?

And as for the K names... ugh. I have a suspicion that people who will name a kid Kodee (or Dakotah, or... you get the picture) are the same people who will make fun of non-white kids with "ethnic" names.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2005


Whoa - that is truly nuts. I feel bad for the little girl, that she was used like this.
posted by missmerrymack at 9:47 AM on August 26, 2005


The Mother: “I just realized that I didn’t know this girl (Jaimie Reynolds),” Tawnya Hadley said. “In the profession that my husband is in, we move and meet new people all the time. What if she’d never brought Caitie back? We feel like we’re idiots.”

Brilliant.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2005


"We feel like we’re idiots"

Go with that. It's more than a feeling
posted by Outlawyr at 10:07 AM on August 26, 2005


three blind mice for the win.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:11 AM on August 26, 2005


Munchausen by Documentary?
posted by maryh at 10:25 AM on August 26, 2005


I want to know what quonsar was doing while this was going on!
posted by davy at 10:29 AM on August 26, 2005


Seiously, concerning the Rootnode article, why was Metafilter brought into this?
posted by davy at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2005


I agree with deadcowdan. I don't see how the actor couldn't realize he was tricking people. It's the kind of improv you see on "The Daily Show"...not an easy thing.
posted by johngoren at 10:56 AM on August 26, 2005


Davy -- why was MetaFilter brought into what? The Kaycee mess? Because several MeFi members were personally duped in the hoax and because the hoax was first revealed as a hoax on a MeFi thread.
posted by Mid at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2005


Check out this strange blogger who thinks Kodee was part of the anti-Bush agenda. Some people see Dan Rather everywhere.
posted by johngoren at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2005


I was fired from the Daily Egyptian in 1989, so that explains a lot.

I wonder if someone has already optioned the movie right to this story?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2005


Good reporting in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story.
posted by Mid at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2005


From the article:

[I]n hindsight, several staffers said Thursday, the girl was painfully shy in person, and would seldom talk. Yet when she called the newsroom on the phone, said current student editor Zack Creglow, "she talked so much that we'd pass the phone around the newsroom."

"That part creeped me out so much last night that I couldn't sleep," Creglow said Thursday. "No one really knew what Kodee's voice sounded like, she was so shy (in person). Now it looks like it was this woman (on the phone) talking in a little kid's voice."
posted by Mid at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2005


ahhh that is really creepy, you're right
posted by johngoren at 1:05 PM on August 26, 2005


I have nothing to add except I went to school there and the fact that this was carried out and everyone fell for it is no surprise at all.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2005


I have nothing to contribute except:
an hoax? What's wrong with "a hoax"?
Do people really say it like: "an oaks"?

Sorry. I just had to share.
posted by drmarcj at 7:25 PM on August 26, 2005


Wow. I guess I've been living under a rock for some time, would you believe I had never heard of Kaycee Nicole? This new one is scary in a different way, it seems. While fewer people seemed distraught at Sgt Kenning's death, this hoax has undeniable political undertones (this explicit, can they even be called undertones?) and the unwitting RL participation of many innocents.

On a side note, I just spent the last few hours reading through old Kaycee stuff, but all of the old pages are defunct. Does anyone know of any mirrors to the original stuff?
posted by arcticwoman at 8:05 PM on August 26, 2005


Dr Marc: I'd go "A hoax," because the "h" is voiced, unlike "an honor," which is more like "on 'er."
posted by klangklangston at 9:40 PM on August 26, 2005


Now the hideous Michelle Malkin is claiming it's an "anti-war hoax."
posted by johngoren at 9:46 PM on August 26, 2005


rafter, well played.

shmegegge, agreed. None of this is adding up. If I ever saw a movie, like the one I just made up, where people were convinced to become a criminal band of bank robbers or terrorists by being told they were just "acting in a movie" and told that their guns were props and that all the blood was just special effects, and all the cameras were hidden . . . for some reason, I would think that movie was insulting my intelligence and over-taxing my suspension of disbelief. No bloodshed in this version, but similar demands on my sense of plausibilty.
posted by dgaicun at 10:31 PM on August 26, 2005


Seems this got the JRunaround

This just begged for a Wikipedia entry. (Oddly, I was just editing another article in Category:Nonexistent people yesterday, and re-read the Kaycee article.)
posted by dhartung at 9:50 AM on August 27, 2005


Honestly, it seemed like she moved from pro-war to anti-war at the end.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on August 27, 2005


Honestly, it seemed like she moved from pro-war to anti-war at the end.

Makes you wonder if she would have been exposed much more quickly if she started out as anti-war in the first place.
posted by deanc at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2005


Nice wiki write-up, dhartung.
posted by Mid at 6:30 PM on August 27, 2005


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