This week, the Pentagon ordered the military’s independent newspaper, Stars and Stripes, to cease publication this month.

However, President Donald Trump ordered a halt to that decision.

The paper was set to cease publication by the end of September under the department’s proposed budget.

“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon, adding, “It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!

Members of Congress also objected to the defunding and closure.

Members of Congress also objected to defunding Stars and Stripes, appealing to Defense Secretary Mark Esper to reinstate the money. A bipartisan letter signed by 15 senators reminded Esper that the department is legally prohibited from canceling a budget program while a temporary resolution to fund the federal government is in effect.

Esper’s office released a statement, saying the decision was “a result of the Defense-wide Review as outlined in the President’s Budget Request (PBR) for Fiscal Year 2021.” The statement outlined the timeline for wrapping up publication, with the last issue on Sept. 30. The organization would be dissolved by the end of January.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., separately wrote to Esper, urging him to maintain funding for the paper, describing it as a “hometown paper” for members of the armed forces.

“As you may know, there is strong support for the Stars and Stripes in Congress,” the letter said. “In fact, the House Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which passed the House of Representatives on July 31, 2020, included additional funding for the publication, and both house of Congress have resolutions supporting the mission of the Stars and Stripes.”

The paper has a long and distinguished history, especially during the era when reporters did actual journalism . . . and under battlefield conditions.

The first Stars and Stripes rolled off presses Nov. 9, 1861 in Bloomfield, Missouri when forces headed by Ulysses Grant overran the tiny town on the way to Cape Girardeau. A group of Grant’s troops who had been pressmen before the war set up shop at a local newspaper office abandoned by its Confederate sympathizer publisher.

Since then Stars and Stripes has launched the careers of famous journalists such as cartoonist Bill Mauldin and TV commentator Andy Rooney. And its independence from the Pentagon brass has been guaranteed by such distinguished military leaders at Gens. John G. Pershing, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower once reprimanded Gen. George Patton for trying to censor Mauldin cartoons he didn’t like.

Today Stars and Stripes is printed at sites around the world and delivered daily to troops — even those on the front lines, where the internet is spotty or inaccessible. As the “local paper” for the military, it provides intensive and critical coverage of issues that are important to members of the nation’s armed services and “cuts through political and military brass BS talking points,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., a Marine veteran, told Military.com.

 

 
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