Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway checks her phone after taking a photo BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Berated as disrespectful, ignorant and privileged, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway opened up on a controversy that took social media by storm Tuesday.

Photographed kneeling on an Oval Office couch during President Donald Trump's meeting with leaders of historically black colleges and universities, Conway perched on her knees — feet behind her — to snap photos of the meeting. Photos of the position sparked a fierce debate about proper decorumin the president's office.

Appearing on Fox Business' "Lou Dobbs Tonight" later Tuesday, Conway apologized for the viral photo.

"I wasbeing asked to take a picture in a crowded room with the press behind us," Conway said. "I was asked to take a certain angle and was doing exactly that. I certainly meant no disrespect. I didn’t mean to have my feet on the couch."


Dobbs asked about the "deplorable hypocrisy" for the "venom of the left" to criticize Conway's pose, while ignoring photos of former President Barack Obama with his feet on the Oval Office desk

"It is venomous, it is vicious, it bothers my children to be frank with you," Conway said. "I have 24/7 Secret Service protection because people do wish us harm and people should take that very seriously. I’m not a victim at all but people should take very seriously the import of their words when I meant no disrespect."

But etiquette experts and members of the Black Lives Matter movement have argued that whatever rapport Trump was trying to establish with HBCUs has been overshadowed by Conway's viral image.

Pamela Eyring, president of the Protocol School of Washington, told the New York Times that Conway's position looked like a rookie mistake.

"The whole media opportunity to show to the good will and the collaborations showing what the president is trying to do is gone now," Eyring said. "Let the media take the shot instead of you trying to stand on furniture."

And Shaun King, a noted criminal justice writer and civil writes activist, noted the hypocrisy of Conway's positioning.

"Never, in the face of white military leaders, would Kellyanne Conway be on the couch, shoes off, on her knees. Period."

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