(Memphis) Congressman Steve Cohen is on the defensive on national TV.
“I drive an ’86 Caddy. A lot of African-Americans drive old cars. Is that stereotype? A lot of African-Americans drive old cars,” Cohen said
The Memphis congressman was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” talking about last week’s news that a young woman he thought was his daughter wasn’t.
That also started with a tweet.
Told AfricanAmerican towdriver my week -father -DNA test not father reporter/ attractive fallout.he(not aware of TN9)says,You're BLack! Yo—
Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) July 21, 2013
Today he was asked about a controversial tweet he made over the weekend about a conversation with an African-American tow truck driver referring to Cohen as black.
“He drives me. We ditch the car. I come out and tell him the story. I said I have had a tough week. It’s been hell. He goes ‘Man, you’re black.’ I took it was a compliment,” Cohen said.
Marcus L. Matthews is the author of a book called “I Am Not The Father: Narratives of Men Falsely Accused of Paternity.”
Matthews underwent a paternity test when he thought he could have fathered a child at the age of 17. It turned out he wasn’t the father, and he says the Cohen tweet can stereotypes minorities.
“You’re making that statement, it sounds like you’re saying ‘I must be black, yo, because I’m dealing with this situation,’ and it’s not just a black situation. The truck driver needs to know it and Cohen needs to know it, too,” Matthews said.
Andrew Bartolotta is a digital media specialist in Memphis.
“It’s been quite a week. I am always surprised when I see a public figure post something that might be inappropriate. My advice would be think before you tweet,” Bartolotta said.
Will the tweet hurt Cohen? News Channel 3 Commentator Otis Sanford doesn’t think it will.
“Steve Cohen has had a bad week. Some of it brought on himself. Frankly, I think the tweet is fairly harmless,” Sanford said.
Still, Cohen says the tweet was only part of a funny joke and his constituents know who he really is.
“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 said.
Cohen also told MSNBC that he’s in the public eye and he’s tired of it. He said he wants to get back to legislating. The anchor’s response was ‘keep it off Twitter and we won’t cover it.”