- A senior Pentagon official has announced that an August directive to end Stars and Stripes has been rescinded, a journalist for the US military reported Thursday.
- Last Friday, President Donald Trump unexpectedly tweeted that the US military will continue funding the Stars and Stripes, effectively saving the publication that his administration’s defense budget request defunded.
- “It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!” he tweeted.
- The Department of Defense first announced plans in February to strip funding from the newspaper, which originated during the Civil War and has long been a source of news for troops, veterans, military families, and civilians.
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The Department of Defense has rescinded an August directive to discontinue publication and dissolve Stars and Stripes, Defense Media Activity Director Col. Paul Haverstick announced Thursday, according to Steve Beynon, one of the US military newspaper’s reporters.
President Donald Trump unexpectedly decided last Friday to continue funding the US military’s editorially-independent newspaper Stars and Stripes, backtracking on his administration’s plans to end a paper that has been providing troops, veterans, military families, and civilians with news for decades.
“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2020
Instead of spending about $15.5 million, a fraction of the Pentagon’s more than $700 billion budget, to sustain the paper that originated during the Civil War and has been published regularly since World War II, the Department of Defense moved to strip the historic newspaper of its funding in its fiscal year 2021 budget request.
“We trimmed the support for Stars and Stripes because we need to invest that money, as we did with many, many other programs, into higher-priority issues,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in February after the Pentagon announced plans to cut funding for the paper.
Initial plans were to suspend publication at the end of this month, with the dissolution operations to be completed by Jan. 31, 2021, according to a letter from lawmakers, but a Pentagon memo described last Friday in a USA Today op-ed reportedly accelerated the timetable, aiming to dissolve the paper earlier.
Last week, a bipartisan group of 15 senators called on Esper to reconsider, arguing that “Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation’s freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom.”
In a letter, they said that there was a “real possibility” Congress would move to fund Stars and Stripes, even if the initial budget request did not.
Commenting on reports that the Pentagon has rescinded its order to end the newspaper, Rep. Ruben Gallego, a Marine Corps veteran and Arizona Democrat, tweeted: “Still putting protections in the NDAA to save Stars and Stripes. Don’t trust they won’t change this in the lame duck.”
Update: This post, which was first published on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, was updated to include the Pentagon’s withdrawal of the order to discontinue and dissolve Stars and Stripes.
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