Hatch Spox: We’re Very In On The Joke, Okay?

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, walks to the chamber as Republicans in the House and Senate plan to pass the sweeping $1.5 trillion GOP tax bill on party-line votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) office was totally just joking when it tweeted an image of the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune, thanking the newspaper for naming him “Utahn of the Year.”

Taking the tweet at face value, Hatch seemingly didn’t read the actual article — a scathing editorial, which called on the eight-term senator to retire when his term expires next year.

Hatch (or his staffers) were apparently just being “tongue-in-cheek” with the gracious tweet, in which Hatch called the distinction a “great Christmas honor,” spokesperson Matt Whitlock said Tuesday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after Hatch’s tweet.

Whitlock poked fun at reporters, saying “you’d have to be very new to Twitter Hatch” to think the senator’s tweet was earnest.

In a second tweeted statement, Whitlock mocked the Tribune — which called Hatch a politician with an “unquenchable thirst for power” — saying he hoped the editorial board found some holiday spirit in something “beyond baselessly attacking” Hatch to “satisfy their unquenchable thirst for clicks.”

Whitlock also said this wasn’t the first time the Tribune has called on Hatch to retire, and proceeded to post a list of legislation that he claims would have fallen flat if it weren’t for the senator, who has been in Congress for 42 years.

While Whitlock did wait almost a full day before clarifying that Hatch was just joshing, the senator — through Whitlock — has inserted humor into his official statements in the past. In September, Hatch’s office released a statement advocating for new medical marijuana research legislation that was littered with weed puns.