The Tribune selected the Republican senator as their "Utahn of the Year" over the weekend for his consequential role in helping pass the first sweeping rewrite of the nation's tax code in over 30 years, and, more controversially, persuading President Donald Trump to scale back two national monuments in southern Utah. Although the editorial afforded Hatch the "Utahn of the Year" distinction due to his far-reaching influence on the national stage, it expressed its deep disapproval of the way Hatch has used that influence and called on him to retire.
Hatch, a critic of politicians who overstayed their welcome from the time he unseated a three-term senator in 1976, is now the longest-serving Republican senator in US history, the Tribune noted.
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".
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.
Hatch's part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
Perhaps most galling to the newspaper is Hatch's decision to run for another term. Former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is reportedly considering a Senate run in Utah and holding off in anticipation of Hatch's decision.More news: Vice media apologizes after NYT investigation alleges rampant sexual misconduct
This post has been updated to include comment from Hatch's office.
The newspaper clearly suspected that its editorial might be misinterpreted, even by Mr. Hatch himself.
In an interview with the Tribune, Hatch said it was "too early to say" what his 2018 plans were.
The Tribune editorial board wrote that Trump and the White House cut Bears Ears as a favor to Hatch in return for his vote on tax reform.
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch had a prominent role supporting the bill.
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. "You should not fall in love with D.C." he told them. "If he doesn't, the voters should end it for him".
In its editorial naming Hatch "Utahn of the Year, the Tribune concluded: "If only he had listened to his own advice".