Hatch fires back at Salt Lake Tribune over blistering editorial

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch struck back at his state’s largest newspaper Tuesday after it ran a scathing Christmas Day editorial calling for his retirement.

The editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune sought to explain why the newspaper had named the long-serving Republican senator “Utahn of the Year.”

It was not meant as a compliment.

Rather, the editors wrote, the selection stemmed from the role Hatch played in “dismantling” two national monuments with the Trump administration’s help; his role in writing the tax code overhaul; and his “utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.”

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

“Everyone celebrates Christmas differently. 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 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,” Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said in a statement.

Hatch also jabbed at the Tribune on Christmas Day, with a dry-witted tweet thanking the paper for “this great Christmas honor.”

Hatch’s spokesman confirmed – that was sarcasm.

The senator has been in the spotlight lately, not only for his role in the controversial national monument decision and tax bill passage, but for reported efforts by President Trump to convince him to seek an eighth term – and in turn block 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney from seeking the seat.

It was to this backdrop that the Tribune tried to shame the 83-year-old lawmaker out of Congress.

“Over the years, Hatch stared down a generation or two of highly qualified political leaders who were fully qualified to take his place … 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. That’s not only not fair to all of those who were passed over. It is basically a theft from the Utah electorate,” the editorial said. “It would be good for Utah if Hatch, having finally caught the Great White Whale of tax reform, were to call it a career. If he doesn’t, the voters should end it for him.”