By Chris Talbott, AP Music Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carrie Underwood has found her voice on Twitter.
The country music star and former “American Idol” champion admitted 3½ years ago she was afraid to join Twitter, but since deciding to take the leap in 2011 she’s embraced the social media tool in ways that go beyond fan engagement. Recently she used Twitter to oppose the “Ag Gag” bill in Tennessee, reaching out directly to Gov. Bill Haslam with a boldly worded message saying if he signed it “he needs to expect me at his front door.”
(Note: Previous post HERE)
It was the first time she’s taken a political stand so publicly, and it seemed to have an impact. Haslam contacted Underwood to discuss the issue and went on to veto the bill that opponents claimed would have stopped investigation into animal abuse on farms.
“He really just wanted to hear everybody’s point of view, which I really respected,” Underwood said in a recent interview. “So it’s kind of neat that (tweet) led to that, which was really cool.”
Dave Smith, spokesman for Tennessee’s Republican governor, said Haslam spoke to people on both sides and that Underwood’s was the only celebrity counsel he sought.
Underwood also recently declared “Hug a soldier day,” and puts her support behind movements like the “End It” anti-slavery campaign and animals rights. She has 2 million followers.
“Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a thinker and I’m a planner and I would never weigh in on anything unless I know the full story on it,” Underwood said. “So I do my research. I don’t think I’m a bandwagon kind of person. People are always retweeting sort of weird stuff. I do my own research. I’m not a political person at all. I doubt anyone can tell you what party I mostly affiliate myself with. But that was just something that was in my backyard.”
As you might expect, there was pushback. Rather than shrink from it, she responded with some grit.
“I realize it’s not necessarily so scary,” she said. “Most of the comments I get back on anything are positive. There’s the occasional negative one, but I enjoy blocking that person.”
The family of missing Tennessean Holly Bobo on Tuesday accused the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation of ignoring their pain after what they call a “very inappropriate, very unprofessional” tweet by the agency’s spokeswoman, according to the Tennessean. The tweet, by TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm, referred to a story on Saturday detailing the TBI’s criticism of a Brentwood nonprofit’s involvement in the investigation and WSMV-Channel 4 reports on the group’s findings. (Previous post HERE)
Helm posted a picture on Twitter showing The Tennessean’s story about the controversy with the caption, “Great way to start off my day and the coffee is brewing.”
Bobo’s mother said Tuesday that the tweet appeared to be “sounding victorious,” while her daughter remains missing.
“I do feel like the big picture has been lost and that picture is finding my daughter,” said Karen Bobo, standing on the steps of the state Capitol. “If this is an example of how TBI feels about my daughter’s case, then I do think there is a conflict of interest.”
Helm later apologized and said the tweet was from her personal account. The tweet has since been deleted.
“The tweet from my personal account was referring to the content of the article, not directed at the case,” she said in an email. “If it was construed as hurtful which was not its intention, I apologize. It does not reflect any opinion of TBI or my work, only my own personal thoughts after hours.”
Congressman Steve Cohen says he tweeted and deleted a message to Cyndi Lauper this week intentionally to fool the press into promoting Memphis music, reports the Commercial Appeal. “There’s been a lot of discussion about my tweets — some questioning my ability to tweet,” Cohen, a Memphis Democrat, said from his desk in the Rayburn Building.
“The fact is I tweeted exactly what I wanted to tweet and I deleted exactly what I wanted to delete because, in this age, which I learned a couple of months ago … the best way to get a message out was to tweet and delete because the press will instantaneously assume the worst — something nefarious, something salacious — and jump on it.”
Cohen accidentally tweeted and deleted messages proclaiming his love for a 24-year-old Texas coed during the State of the Union in February and stories of the tweets went viral. Two days later, he revealed that she was a daughter he had never publicly identified.
The deleted tweets to Lauper were captured by Politiwoops, a program of the Sunlight Foundation, a good-government group that promotes transparency in government.
Cohen’s Twitter messages on Wednesday to Lauper mentioned her singing “Try a Little Tenderness” and said her performance at “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” on Tuesday night was “hot.” The concert will be broadcast on PBS stations, including WKNO, on Tuesday night.
On Friday, Cohen explained: “It was a hot show, and Memphis music is hot. And Cyndi Lauper’s performance was hot. So was Justin Timberlake’s and Eddie Floyd’s ‘Knock on Wood’ and I wanted the world to know about it.”
Cohen said that if he put out a press release about the show, no one would see it.
“But I knew from my last episode, because of Politiwoops and the Sunshine (sic) Foundation having their area where they put deleted tweets, I knew the press would see it,” he said. “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 unlike anything I could have ever done.”
Congressman Steve Cohen is back in the headlines here over more deleted “tweets” from his Twitter account, reports the Commercial Appeal. The Memphis Democrat attended “In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” on Tuesday night at the White House, then tweeted one of the stars — Cyndi Lauper — Wednesday morning.
Lauper had sung “Try a Little Tenderness” accompanied by blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite at Tuesday’s concert to be broadcast on PBS next Tuesday.
“Cyndi, Wow what a night! See you next Tuesday and Try a little tenderness again! Wow! What a special night. Thanks Steve,” he wrote at 10:31 a.m., then evidently thought better of it and deleted it after 34 seconds.
But it was captured by the Politiwoops aggregation program of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington good-government group that promotes openness and transparency. Its spokeswoman, Liz Bartolomeo, provided the texts and time stamps Thursday.
At 6:16 p.m. Wednesday, Cohen sent another tweet to @CyndiLauper: “great night, couldn’t believe how hot u were. see you again next Tuesday. try a little tenderness,” he wrote. Then he deleted it after 21 minutes.
The Washington Post’s Reliable Source blog Thursday let the world know about it with the headline: “Rep. Steve Cohen thinks Cyndi Lauper is ‘hot,’ but deletes tweet saying so.” Politico called the tweets “flirty.”
….Cohen did not respond to requests Thursday for comment.
From the Commercial Appeal:
Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen caught flak in the blogosphere this week for his mistakenly public tweets of endearment to a Texas college student half his age as the president’s State of the Union address was ending Tuesday night.
Though Cohen, 63 and a bachelor, didn’t own up at first to who she was when the tweets became public, he said Thursday night she is a daughter he didn’t know he had until three years ago.
The 24-year-old Texas college student and swimsuit model is Victoria Elizabeth Brink, who used her Twitter account to write that she was watching Cohen on television in the House of Representatives chamber. The two exchanged tweets during and after the Sate of the Union address.
Brink, a student at Texas State University, is also the daughter of a Texas criminal defense lawyer, Cynthia White Sinatra, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006 against Libertarian Ron Paul, who was a candidate for president last year.
Cohen declined to describe the affair with Sinatra, saying only, “her mother and I have been friends for a long time.” There had been a hiatus, “but we renewed our friendship when I found out she was the mother of my child.”
According to her law firm web page, Sinatra, 60, is a criminal defense lawyer who was married to Frank Sinatra, Jr., the son of the famous “Old Blue Eyes.” She has represented criminal defendants before the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including Dragan Jokic, a Bosnia Serb accused of genocide, murder and torture in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Excerpt from a story on The Hill’s Gossip blog:
Rep. Steve Cohen repeatedly tweeted, and then deleted, messages to a woman on Twitter who his office is calling “the daughter of a longtime friend” and who has the same name as a Texas State University blonde bombshell featured in a college co-ed calendar.
In a Tuesday night message ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union address, a Twitter user named Victoria Brink tweeted to the Tennessee Democrat, “just saw you on tv!”
According to a tweet captured by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation’s Politiwoops site, Cohen replied to Brink, “pleased u r watching. Ilu” The tweet was deleted after three minutes.
Both Wikipedia and UrbanDictionary.com define “ilu” as Internet slang for either “I love you” or “I like you.”
In another message sent Wednesday morning, Cohen wrote again to Brink on Twitter: “nice to know you were watchin SOTU (state of the union.) Happy Valentines beautiful girl. Ilu.” That message was deleted within 15 minutes of being posted.
A biography of Victoria Brink on CollegeDozen.com says the 24-year-old, who is seen posing in a turquoise and pink bikini, plans on “moving back to Beverly Hills or Houston to pursue a career in the fashion industry and do modeling on the side,” following her graduation.
… Cohen’s spokesman, Michael Pagan, tells ITK that his boss and Brink “are pretty much like family.” Adding, “There’s nothing going on there. He actually has a longtime girlfriend in Memphis.”
When ITK pressed Pagan why Cohen was writing “ilu” and wishing the Twitter user a happy Valentine’s Day, he responded, “That I do not know.”
The press secretary explained of the deleted tweets, “He meant to do it as a private message and then he realized he did it publicly.”
The Tennessee Republican Party, not surprisingly, was quick to attack Cohen with a press release. It’s below.
As David Smith, spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam, says in an email, his boss is doubtless the first Tennessee governor ever to announce via Twitter that he’s singed a state budget.
Here’s the tweet text:
@BillHaslam: Proud 2 sign this year’s budget. During difficult times it’s great 2 have strong bipartisan support
Original Tweet: http://twitter.com/DSmith_BHMedia/statuses/81434539829899264