Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office accused the Salt Lake Tribune for promoting click bait and for going “beyond baselessly attacking” Hatch after the newspaper published an editorial on Monday calling on Hatch to retire from his post after serving for seven terms in the Senate.
“Everyone celebrates Christmas differently,” Matt Whitlock, a Hatch spokesperson, said in a statement. “We all sincerely hope the members of The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board find joy this holiday season in something beyond baselessly attacking the service and integrity of someone who [has] given 40 years for the people of Utah, and served as one of the most effective lawmakers of all time just to satisfy their unquenchable thirst for clicks.”
The editorial named Hatch “The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year,” but its content was far from flattering. The award is given to someone who “has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”
"It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career," the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board wrote. "If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him."
The paper accused Hatch of displaying a lack of integrity, derived from an “unquenchable thirst for power,” citing that he claimed he would not to run again in 2012.
“Clearly, it was a lie,” the editorial said.
The Salt Lake Tribune applauded Hatch’s role in passing the GOP tax bill Trump signed into law on Friday, but criticized him for his “part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.”
In response to the piece, Hatch tweeted Monday a photo of the front page of the paper and said the title was a “great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune.” But Whitlock said the tweet was meant in “tongue-and-cheek” and that the newspaper has called on Hatch to retire in the past.
You’d have to be very new to Twitter Hatch to think this tweet was anything but tongue-in-cheek. This is at least the 4th editorial the Tribune has written in the last two years urging Hatch to retire. Might as well have a chuckle about it. On Christmas.https://t.co/kzWebDLVuG— Matt Whitlock ???????? (@mattdizwhitlock) December 26, 2017
Hatch, a loyal supporter of President Trump, is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and was first elected in 1976. He has not announced whether he will run in the 2018 election, delaying other Republican candidates including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, from possibly entering the race.
Trump has encouraged Hatch to run again and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is also reportedly considering endorsing Hatch.