Along with a news article and the photo, the newspaper published a scathing editorial that took aim at the senator's recent record, most notably his part in the Trump administration's decision to shrink two national monuments in the state, and said that the designation was meant to anoint the Utahn who had had the most impact, "for good or for ill".
Though the publication wrote of Hatch's major role in passing Republicans' tax overhaul in a more positive light, the editorial board wrote that the legislation's passage was all the more reason for him to retire from office after serving for more than 40 years.
But Matt Whitlock, Hatch's communications director, made clear in a Tuesday tweet that Hatch's seemingly approving tweet was "tongue-in-cheek". It even suggests that, if the senator doesn't end his career himself, "the voters should end it for him". The Tribune attacked Hatch for supporting President Donald Trump's drastic reduction in the size of federally protected land in Utah's Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments, which the Tribune argued had "no constitutional, legal or environmental logic".
The senator seemed to appreciate the recognition, tweeting an image of the front page and thanking the Salt Lake Tribune for "this great Christmas honor".
Senate Finance Committee chairman speaks out on 'Special Report'.
"Clearly, it was a lie", the board continued. "That's not only not fair to all of those who were passed over".
The op-ed makes note that Hatch promised during his bid for re-election in 2012 that he would not run again, which caused other viable candidates to clear a path for the "elder statesman".
Hatch's tweet did not include a link to the piece, leading some to speculate the senator or his communications team were aware of the editorial's contents. It was in those hearings that Anita Hill alleged that Thomas, while her boss at the Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, had sexually harassed her. Hatch has since said that Thomas and his wife deserve an apology from Hill.