For this week’s mobile reporting assignment, Brittany Neal and I went around the Seton Hall campus to interview fellow students on the controversial topic that we hashtagged #OvalOfficeCouchGate. We decided to ask students their opinion on the recent photo circulating on social media regarding the way Kellyanne Conway is posed on the couch of the Oval Office, where President Trump met with various presidents of historic black colleges. We chose to hashtag the live streams with #OvalOfficeCouchGate because #Couchgate was already being used as part of the controversy, therefore we made it more specific and added “OvalOffice.”
Since this a topic that was widespread enough through various social media platforms, we thought this would be a topic of discussion that people have a strong opinion about and since the news is recent, people’s opinions on it will still be fresh in their minds.
The questions we based the interview are as follows:
1. What were your initial thoughts on the photo?
2. Do you think this photo speaks any volume?
3. Do you think it was set-up?
It has been circulating social media platforms like wildfire, like most things currently happening in the White House, a photo of Kellyanne Conway sitting casually on the couch of the Oval Office and taking pictures on her phone as President Trump meets with presidents of historic black colleges and universities.
The debate between whether Kellyanne was “disrespectful” or “overly excited” about meeting with presidents of HBCUs has been going back and forth on social media. There are also statements saying the controversy was misconstrued to look as if she was being disrespectful.
Kellyanne went on to say in an interview that the press should be more concerned about noting the importance behind why she was actually there in the first place.
In order to get a general (kind of small) consensus on this issue, students at Seton Hall University were asked their initial reactions.
Erin Morgan, a junior at SHU, had strong feelings about the controversy stating that Kellyanne looked like she “didn’t want to be involved at all” and “she doesn’t really care.”
Britton Fannell, a junior, stated she looked “unprofessional.” When asked if the photo itself speaks any volume towards the public, he said it speaks volumes in that there is a lot of power in one room and Kellyanne appeared as a “blemish” to the greater picture.
All of the participants essentially stated that it was or appeared “disrespectful,” but Billy Ray, a junior, who initially thought it appeared this way, opened up to the idea that it may have been set up to look that way by the media. “It was a misconception,” he said.
Simply put, as President Trump’s counselor, Kellyanne was asked to take pictures of the meeting and in the process, had her photo taken while she was reviewing pictures she took on her phone.
Kellyanne stated in an interview that she has an incredible respect for the Oval Office and the history behind it.
Hopefully, there may be less focus on the out-of-context photo of Kellyanne and more talk about the importance behind what was discussed with presidents of HBCUs.