Hatch Proves He Is, Um, Actually Not Dead

Senator’s team has a little fun highlighting his last few months after Google search shows his date of death

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, alive and well, arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, alive and well, arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 24, 2018 at 9:06am

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is actually alive.

Which most of us who’ve seen him walking the halls of the Capitol over the last year already knew.

Apparently Google did not.

Someone on the Utah Republican’s communications team discovered Monday night that Hatch’s “Knowledge Panel” that Google aggregates on his search results page listed him as having died on Sept. 11, 2017.

Someone had vandalized the senator’s Wikipedia page to add the death date, a review of the page’s edit log shows.

So Hatch’s aides decided to have a little fun.

“Hi… Google,” Hatch’s team tweeted at the tech giant, using its products’ new voice command phrase. “We might need to talk,” they added, along with a picture highlighting his faulty death date.

Over roughly the next hour, Hatch’s communications team added videos and images of the senator’s personal highlights since his supposed death date.

The clips included videos of the 84-year-old Hatch meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Motown legend Smokey Robinson and images of such mundanity as the senator reading a newspaper, eating bacon, and chowing down at a buffet chain in Salt Lake City.

Google’s communications team quickly swooped in to clear up the issue and thanked Hatch for taking the technical hiccup in stride.

“You certainly are alive and sporting a great sense of humor,” Google tweeted in reply to Hatch’s thread. “We apologize for the error. We’ll have it fixed shortly.”

Google’s systems automatically populate information on Knowledge Panels from a variety of sources from across the web, including Wikipedia.

The discrepancy on Hatch’s panel was not the result of anyone at Google internally modifying his information.

“When Senator Hatch first heard of his passing he was quite alarmed,” his spokesman Matt Whitlock said in an email.

“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 said.

Hatch is the second-longest serving current senator behind Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. He is retiring at the end of his term this winter and will have served seven full terms since he first won election in 1976.