Congressman Steve Cohen Forced to Explain Another Tweet

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Steve Cohen, U.S. Representative 9th District of Tennessee speaks during the Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee on March 30, 2007.
Photo: Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images

At this point, it seems that Representative Steve Cohen should take a break from Twitter until he can figure out how to use it properly. The Tennessee Democrat's account first came to the public's attention back in February, when he posted flirty-sounding tweets at a 24-year-old aspiring swimsuit model Victoria Brink to his public feed. As it turns out, the tweets were intended to be direct messages, and Cohen wasn't hitting on Brink — he just believed she was his long-lost illegitimate daughter. That also turned out to be a mix-up: Last week, a "stunned and dismayed" Cohen announced that a paternity test showed that Brink wasn't his daughter after all. (In between those two revelations, he carried out a misguided "ruse" involving a tweet calling Cyndi Lauper "hot.") During a Monday Morning Joe appearance to discuss the recent, Maury-style twist in his life, host Mika Brzezinski asked Cohen to talk about another questionable tweet he sent out this weekend.

Cohen started off his explanation for what compelled him to put that particular material on Twitter by digging himself a little further into the hole. "It was fun. It was funny. I had a tough night. Here’s what happened: I drive an ‘86 Caddy. A lot of African-Americans drive old cars — a stereotype — a lot of African-Americans drive old cars," he helpfully began, before going on to explain that his own old car broke down, forcing him to call a towing company. A black driver was sent to pick him up, and Cohen apparently told him about what happened with Brink. "He goes, 'Man, you’re black,'" recalled Cohen. "And I took it was a compliment. I hear it in Memphis all the time. My constituents don’t look at me as a white person, they say, 'You’re one of us.'"

Cohen went on to complain about the press blowing the tweet out of proportion, to which Brzezinski sagely responded, "Keep it off Twitter and we won’t cover it." "It" being anything that references possible secret love children, pernicious racial stereotypes, or anything else likely to make a reasonable person cringe, just so we're clear. Nice, inoffensive tweets are obviously no way for a congressman to get media attention.