Rep. Steve Cohen says Cyndi Lauper tweets were a ruse

April 12, 2013

Updated at 2:06 p.m.

Rep. Steve Cohen said Friday that his tweet labeling musician Cyndi Lauper as "hot" was part of a ruse to draw attention to the singer and the Memphis music scene.

The Tennessee Democrat said at a Capitol Hill news conference that he told some congressional colleagues about his plan before he went ahead with it and that he knew he would draw more attention by deleting the tweet and allowing people to believe he had mis-tweeted.

"In this age, which I learned a couple of months ago in a situation with some very innocent and loving tweets to my daughter, I discovered that the best way to get a message out is to tweet and delete, because the press will instantaneously assume something nefarious, something salacious, and jump on it," Cohen said. "I go to great lengths to talk about my home city of Memphis."

Cohen's overly affectionate tweets earlier this year to a young model raised eyebrows about their relationship. He later announced that she was his daughter and that he hadn't known about her until three years ago.

It seemed to be happening again this week when Cohen tweeted at Lauper and then deleted it shortly thereafter.

"@cyndilauper great night,couldn’t believe how hot u were.see you again next Tuesday.try a little tenderness," Cohen posted Tuesday night, deleting the tweet shortly thereafter.

The tweet was archived, as are all deleted tweets by members of Congress, by the Sunlight Foundation's Politwoops Web site.

"If I put out a press release or a tweet, no one would see it," Cohen said. "But I knew from my last episode, because of Politwoops, and the Sunshine (sic) Foundation ... I knew the press would see it, and I knew the press would also see the worst in it and publish it, and by doing so, they would publicize the Memphis music event unlike anything I could have ever done."

Update 4:07 p.m.: As Manuel Roig-Franzia reports, Cohen said he told other people about his plan beforehand in order to prove it was a ruse. But two members of Congress that Cohen says he told about his plot -- Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) -- say nothing of the sort happened. A third person -- former congressman Toby Moffett (D-Conn.) -- confirms Cohen did tell him beforehand.

 

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Aaron Blake · April 12, 2013