Rep. Steve Cohen claims he wrote, and subsequently deleted, a post on Twitter calling singer Cyndi Lauper “hot” to teach the press a lesson and conjure up publicity for his homestate.
Greg Nash/The Hill
In a Friday news conference the Tennessee Democrat said, “I tweeted exactly what I wanted to tweet and I deleted exactly what I wanted to delete."
Cohen sparked a flurry of media attention on Thursday after tweeting, “@cyndilauper great night, couldn’t believe how hot u were. see you again next Tuesday. Try a little tenderness.”
The message came two days after Cohen attended a "Memphis Soul" concert at the White House featuring Lauper and other performers, including Justin Timberlake and the music duo Alabama Shakes.
Cohen’s "hot" tweet to the singer on Thursday was deleted after 21 minutes.
An earlier post, in which Cohen wrote, “Cyndi,Wow what a night!See you next Tuesday and Try a little tenderness again!Wow!What a special night.Thanks Steve” was deleted after 34 seconds.
Lauper, 59, performed Otis Redding’s classic, “Try a Little Tenderness” at the White House event.
The posts were captured on the Sunlight Foundation’s Politiwoops site, which retains deleted tweets.
Cohen, 63, says he intentionally deleted the message, in an effort to raise eyebrows among members of the press: “I discovered the best way to get a message out is to tweet and delete.”
Greg Nash/The Hill
The congressman said at the news conference he felt “victimized” earlier this year, when he made headlines for tweeting and deleting Valentine’s Day messages to a 24-year-old college student.
While some outlets speculated of a romantic link, Cohen, a longtime bachelor, later revealed the woman was his long-lost daughter, who he'd only learned about three years earlier.
Cohen says he was “personally hurt” by “sensationalized, factless speculation masquerading as journalism.”
Cohen denied his Lauper trick was a distraction. “No, my constituents want the world to come to Memphis and listen to our music,” he said.
When pressed by ITK whether his constituents would appreciate him taking the time to conjure up his scheme, Cohen replied, “I think my constituents will love this. It’s promoting Memphis music.”
Cohen said his tweet about Lauper was an "honest" reflection of his reaction to the singer's performance.
"It was hot. She was hot. It was a hot performance,” he said.
Cohen had taken to the House floor on Thursday to praise the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” hit maker. “While there were a lot of great performers there, I want to put a particular shout-out to Ms. Cyndi Lauper because she’s special," he said of the White House concert.
In response to a question at Friday's news conference about using the word “hot” to describe a female performer, Cohen replied: “If I would’ve said it about Justin Timberlake, ya’ll would’ve written that I was gay. And his performance was hot too. ... If I had said it about the Alabama Shakes, you might’ve thought I was trying to get into a group scene.”
The lawmaker said while he doesn’t intend to pull the maneuver again, he would tweet and delete a press release about the news conference.
Cohen indicated his staff was unaware of the stunt, saying, “I’m a one-trick pony.”
—Alexandra Jaffe contributed