Orrin Hatch Would Like You To Know He's Still Alive | KGOU
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Orrin Hatch Would Like You To Know He's Still Alive

Jul 24, 2018
Originally published on July 24, 2018 5:50 pm

Scroll through Orrin Hatch's Twitter feed and you'll see fairly routine tweets from the Republican senator from Utah: support for President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, and promotion of legislation Hatch backs.

But late Monday evening, Hatch's official Twitter account posted a tweet to Google, saying, "We might need to talk."

Turns out, any curious constituent Googling the senator on Tuesday morning would have found that one of the top Google search results said Hatch had been dead since Sept. 11, 2017.

That's when the fun began for Hatch's social media team members, who realized it wouldn't be enough to just point out the fatal (or not, pun intended) error.

Because what good is a claim that Hatch was alive without proof?

The evidence came pouring in, one tweet at a time.

Exhibit A: The senator reading a newspaper:

Signing some bills:

The account linked to full interviews that Hatch did recently — calling them "proof of life."

It continued.

The account tweeted videos calling the senator "very much alive."

While the tweets didn't come directly from Hatch himself — he signs his original tweets "ogh" — Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock says there is a "clever, nimble communications team that works hard to keep up with the senator's own trademark sense of humor and wit."

That included sharing a photo of the Hatch's birthday celebration in March, where bacon apparently played a significant role.

The social media jabbing continued with a tweet saying that even in death, Hatch "remains one of the Senate's most prolific legislators," including advancing three bills since the Internet pronounced him dead.

Whitlock told NPR that "unconfirmed reports suggest that by 7:30a.m., Hatch had already completed an hour of CrossFit and an hour of miscellaneous sport. When Senator Hatch first heard of his passing he was quite alarmed. Having advanced 4 major bills last night he was surprised to hear that he may have been dead the whole time. After both the Senator and staff confirmed he was in fact alive and not a part of some kind of Sixth Sense phenomenon, he had a good laugh and may have run several miles to celebrate."

Whitlock says his boss felt it was a good opportunity to highlight some of the "great moments" of the last few months of being alive on social media.

While very much among the land of the living, Hatch, 84, is retiring at the end of this term.

Google responded to the tweets Tuesday morning, writing, "You are certainly alive and sporting a great sense of humor. We apologize for the error. We'll have it fixed shortly."

Hatch was very happy to hear it.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This afternoon, the Twitter handle @senorrinhatch posted a short video. It's of Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch reading The Washington Post - today's Washington Post, which is important to note. Hatch lowers the paper and says...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ORRIN HATCH: The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

(SOUNDBITE OF DRAMATIC SOUND EFFECT)

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

That sound effect is on the actual video. It is one of the latest tweets today proving that the senator is alive. Once again, Senator Orrin Hatch is alive and well.

CORNISH: Now, this all started last night around 10:30. A constituent flagged that if you Googled Senator Hatch, a top return listed him as dead since September 11, 2017. Matt Whitlock, deputy chief of staff and director of communications for Senator Hatch, explains what happened next.

MATT WHITLOCK: We had a really good laugh about it. And Senator Hatch thought it would be a great opportunity to sort of have some fun and show some of the highlights of his last several months on social media as a proof of life.

SHAPIRO: And so the tweets began. Just after 11 last night, the official Twitter account of his office posted, hi, Google; we might need to talk - and then a video of him signing bills and another tweet of Hatch alive earlier this month giving a gift to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: Thank you. Bye-bye.

CORNISH: And then the senator alive meeting with Utah veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HATCH: I just love seeing these veterans. They're my heroes, my inspiration. And they remind me of the importance of my job as their representative.

CORNISH: There were several other videos, and you got to love the series of photos from his 84th birthday party in March - a shot of the senator with a glass of milk and a plate of bacon.

SHAPIRO: To be clear, the party had a bacon theme. All of this proof seemed to satisfy Google. The company responded to the tweets with this message - you certainly are alive and sporting a great sense of humor. We apologize for the error. We'll have it fixed shortly. And the Internet no longer lists Senator Hatch as dead.

CORNISH: If you're wondering how this happened in the first place, it appears that a user modified the Wikipedia page for Senator Hatch adding the fake death date. Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock says along with the senator's sense of humor about it all...

WHITLOCK: His reaction was, I'm going to have to live another 20 years just to spite them (laughter).

CORNISH: Senator Orrin Hatch, who again is alive, retires in January after more than 40 years in the Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF WORLDHITS INSTRUMENTAL'S "STAYIN' ALIVE (INSTRUMENTAL VERSION)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.