The article then criticized Hatch for being a senator "longer than three-fifths of the state's population has been alive" and mentioned his "utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power".
Earlier this month the U.S. president, Donald Trump, modified designations for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, potentially opening the land to big corporate developers and the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Hatch, a Republican, said on Twitter that he was "grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune". "Orrin G. Hatch as the 2017 Utahn of the Year has little to do with the fact that, after 42 years, he is the longest-serving Republican senator in USA history, that he has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state's population has been alive", it reads.
Hatch responded to the editorial with a tongue-in-cheek tweet, along with his own "picks" for Utahn of the Year.
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.
"To all appearances - appearances promoted by Hatch - this anti-environmental, anti-Native American and, yes, anti-business decommissioning of national monuments was basically a political favor the White House did for Hatch", the Tribune wrote.More news: Donald Trump signs Tax Cuts Act into law
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Notably, Hatch didn't post a link to the stories- only including a screen-shot of the headline supposedly "lauding" him.
The newspaper clearly suspected that its editorial might be misinterpreted, even by Mr. Hatch himself.
The paper said now that Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, had helped shepherd through his long-sought goal of tax reform, he should announce he will not seek re-election. "A favor done in return for Hatch's support of the president generally and of his tax reform plan in particular".
But if a Democrat or Republican primary opponent were looking for ammunition against Hatch, the Tribune editorial would not be a bad place to look.
But a number of news outlets and online critics called out Hatch for referring to "the honor" of the Tribune's designation as the editorial board was slamming him. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him", the newspaper said.
Prior to Clarence Thomas and the anti-apartheid vote, in his first decade in the Senate, Hatch offered advice to Capitol Hill interns in 1983.