Most notably, there is little of the over-the-top outrage that greeted another unmarried man, former mayor Willie Herenton, when he made a surprise announcement of fathering a child in 2005 with an unmarried woman. It is not known yet whether Cohen's lady friend of 24 years ago, Cynthia White Sinatra, was married or not at the time or who helped raise the child. Ms. Sinatra has apparently been divorced more than once, and she and Cohen were reportedly out of contact for some 20 years.
On Cohen and his daughter Victoria Brink and her mother:
The Memphis Flyer: “There is more to tell about this tale, and we’ll tell it when it becomes possible. Meanwhile, we congratulate the proud papa (who intends to spend some joyous and out-in-the-open time with his daughter), and we say “shame on you” to those who, for political reasons, tried to escalate this story, an inspirational one if it’s anything at all, into a scandal. ….. Could there have been a better Valentine's Day story than this?”
Wendi Thomas of The Commercial Appeal: “There is but one thing that troubles me about the news that U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a confirmed bachelor, has a 24-year-old daughter. He doesn't know how to tweet. Cohen, 63, was forced Thursday to tell the world that three years ago, he learned he is a parent — which is really no one's business — only because he sent a message into the Twitterverse that he intended only for his daughter.”
Cohen spokesman Michael Pagan, the day before the announcement made this statement inoperative: "She is the daughter of a longtime friend and they're pretty much like family. He's known her pretty much her whole life. He has a longtime girlfriend in Memphis."
Van Turner, Chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, to WMC-TV: "It's surprising. I think it's wonderful news, parenthood changes you. I'm here with my daughter, so I think you look at issues a little differently. It really makes you a well rounded elected public servant.”
Compare this to Commercial Appeal investigative reporter Marc Perrusquia's look-back on Herenton and Claudine Marsh in 2009, the year before Herenton challenged Cohen in a congressional race. In January 2005, when his son Michael was 4 months old, Herenton called a press conference to announce that he had fathered the child, whom he has supported financially.
“Even as years of controversy roiled into a near operatic drama, few of the developments affecting fourth-term Mayor Willie Wilbert Herenton resonated like that of the birth of his son, Michael . . . In the birth of his out-of-wedlock son, Herenton’s critics found a trifecta of flaws: poor judgment, recklessness and a brazen penchant for secrecy.”
Like Cohen, Herenton asked the media and public to respect his privacy.
“I respectfully request that the media respect the privacy of all of the individuals involved. This matter has nothing to do with my public duty as the mayor.”
The CA was having none of it, even in 2009.
“Yet as Herenton tried to douse yet another fire, questions flowed. Could the mayor, with his record for controversy, realistically expect the media to leave this matter alone? Did his private life really not affect his public duties? And what kind of example was he setting for the city’s youth?”