Utah's biggest newspaper unloads on Orrin Hatch

Posted December 27, 2017

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Monday tweeted out an editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune naming him "Utahn of the Year", declaring that he was "grateful for this Christmas honor".

Hatch earned these honors, the Tribune said, for helping dramatically dismantle the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, his leading role in enacting the Republican tax overhaul, and - in case you were wondering about good vs. ill - "his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power".

The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board said it also gave Hatch the title because of his key role in the dismantling of two national monuments in Utah and passing the new federal tax code.

And still, the legislator, who has served seven terms in the Senate, chose to tweet an image of the newspaper's front page, telling his follower that he is "grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune".

That last line seemed to strike a nerve with Hatch's office.

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But Matt Whitlock, Hatch's communications director, made clear in a Tuesday tweet that Hatch's seemingly approving tweet was "tongue-in-cheek".

None of that, apparently, caught Hatch's attention.

In a subsequent tweet, Whitlock issued a formal response to the Tribune editorial, urging the newspaper's editorial board to "find joy this holiday season in something beyond baselessly attacking the service and integrity of someone who [has] given 40 years to the people of Utah". At the event, Trump invited members of Congress to speak, and when Hatch's turn came, he offered a glowing approval of the legislation - and the President. Once again, Hatch has moved to freeze the field to make it nigh unto impossible for any number of would-be senators to so much as mount a credible challenge. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him".

Quite similar to the yearly confusion surrounding the choosing process behind TIME magazine's Person of the Year, the Salt Lake City Tribune attempted to explain that being designated Utahn of the Year is not inherently positive.

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been considering a 2018 run for Hatch's seat should the elder statesman step down. "It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate".