Occasionally, we hear from those whose job it is to cast politicians in a good light because they don’t like how their boss is portrayed in a story.
That happened Tuesday when Matt Harakal, a spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch, contacted reporter Scott Pierce and numerous editors unhappy that a story about Memorial Day services included quotes by Hatch in which Utah’s senior senator assailed the nation’s courts in an unscripted address outside Woods Cross City Hall.
Speaking specifically about the Sebellius v. Hobby Lobby Stores case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, Utah’s senior senator said “I hope the Supreme Court doesn’t screw that up is all I can say... Because if they foul up the First Amendment again, we’re going to have a constitutional amendment. And I believe I can put one on that everyone in this country, except the nuts, will support.
“I shouldn’t talk like that, but I’ve reached an age that I can say whatever I want. Especially because it’s true.”
Some veterans wished Hatch hadn’t chosen to introduce politics into an event intended to honor the war dead, and Harakal wishes we hadn’t included Hatch’s remarks in our story.
In his speech, the senator did speak about an older brother killed in World War II. He also thanked veterans for their service. We reported that portion of his remarks in our story as well.
But when a politician of Hatch’s stature speaks as he did about the nation’s courts, it’s news and The Tribune reports it — even if other news organizations in attendance at Monday’s service chose not to, a point Harakal emphasized in criticizing us.
The remarks were reported accurately and in context, a reality we invite readers to verify by listening to recordings of both a clip from the speech and the entire speech, which we posted at sltrib.com.
Should we not have reported Hatch’s remarks? If were our job to cast politicians in a good light, perhaps not.
But that’s not our job. We did our job in reporting the news.