With the Pentagon reportedly set to shutter the US military’s long-running newspaper, President Donald Trump has stepped in to declare Stars and Stripes safe from closure. However, that closure has been in the works for months.
According to a Pentagon memo reported by several US outlets on Friday, the US military’s newspaper, Stars And Stripes, will cease operations this month, and publish its last copy by September 30.
As the news broke, Trump took to Twitter to declare the newspaper – first published in 1861 – safe. “The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch,” he tweeted on Friday afternoon. “It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!”
The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!
The decision to close the paper was not a snap call by the Pentagon. Funding for Stars And Stripes is only secure until the end of fiscal year 2020 – which ends on the last day of this month. Congress is still debating the military budget for 2021, and the inclusion of $15.5 million for Stars and Stripes to stay open is not yet a done deal.
The Pentagon proposed in February that the newspaper’s budget be redirected toward the development of space-based and hypersonic weapons. It is unknown whether Trump was involved in that decision.
Faced with the imminent demise of Stars and Stripes, a group of senators wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier this week, asking the military chief to keep the newspaper funded. “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,” they wrote. “Therefore, we respectfully request that you rescind your decision.”
The $15.5 million “is only a tiny fraction” of the military’s $700-billion yearly budget, they pointed out.
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