Discuss as:

Congressman says Lauper tweets were hoax on media

A Tennessee congressman who's found himself in trouble before on Twitter said he'd tried to "punk" the Washington press corps by directing, then deleting, a seemingly flirty tweet to the singer Cyndi Lauper this week.

After having found himself in the middle of a frenzy earlier this year regarding a message he sent toward a young woman -- whom he later admitted was his daughter -- Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said that he was attempting to rope D.C. reporters into a feeding frenzy by directing a tweet toward Lauper, the '80s pop star. Both had attended a White House celebration of Memphis music earlier this week.

Cohen made two tweets toward Lauper on Tuesday, which he subsequently deleted. Both were archived by a government transparency group, the Sunlight Foundation:

"@cyndilauper great night,couldn't believe how hot u were.see you again next Tuesday.try a little tenderness."

"Cyndi,Wow what a night!See you next Tuesday and Try a little tenderness again!Wow!What a special night.Thanks Steve."

Two days later, he mentioned Lauper again, this time on the House floor where he praised her performance at the White House event.

“While there were a lot of great performers there, I want to put a particular shout-out to Ms. Cyndi Lauper, ‘cause she’s special,” he said. 

On Friday, Cohen told NBC News that the tweets were part of an elaborate prank, to demonstrate how the media jumps for salacious stories. He went on to say "tweet and delete" is the best way to get media's attention, accusing the press of a shameful rush to judgment.

Cohen hopes that the attention given to the Lauper tweet while promote a PBS documentary that airs on Tuesday about Memphis Soul music. (Cohen represents a Memphis-area district.)

He also mentioned that he had "waited for two months to trick the press corps after what they did to my family," referencing the revelation that he is the father of a young woman he tweeted at during the State of the Union address.


During a press event Friday, Cohen was asked why the media should believe that the tweets were fake. He told reporters that he spoke to two other lawmakers about the plan before it unfolded. 

"They can call (Rep.) John Yarmuth and (Rep.) Joe Courtney who I talked to about it on Monday on the floor and said, 'Boys, wait till I see what I do this week with the press,'" Cohen said, "So call Yarmuth or Courtney."

Spokesmen for both offices tell NBC News that Cohen informed them of the plot after it had happened. 

Also of note: the House wasn't in session on Monday.

NBC News reached out to Cohen's office for clarification, and was told that he misspoke -- he meant to say that the other lawmakers were told of the plan before the story broke, not before the tweets were deleted.

NBC's Frank Thorp contributed to this report.

This story was originally published on