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Sept. 4, 2020, 11:15 a.m.
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The Pentagon orders the military newspaper Stars and Stripes to shut down by the end of the month

“Trump has taken over VOA, Radio Free Europe, etc…planting loyalists, firing critical journalists. He can’t do that with Stripes so he’s just…zeroing out the budget.”

The Pentagon has ordered the 159-year-old independent military newspaper Stars and Stripes to come up with a shutdown plan by September 15 and stop publishing by September 30. The news — and a bipartisan group of senators’ plea to save the paper — was reported on Wednesday. This morning, USA Today reported on the memo in which Colonel Paul R. Haverstick, Jr., director of the Defense Media Activity, issued the shutdown order.

The plan for dissolution, due by September 15, should include a “specific timeline for vacating government-owned/leased space worldwide,” he wrote, and “the last newspaper publication (in all forms) will be September 30, 2020.”

At Military.com, Oriana Pawlyk reported:

The Pentagon in February proposed cutting all of the newspaper’s funding — roughly $15.5 million annually — to reallocate those dollars toward other high-profile programs, such as space, nuclear and hypersonic systems, [Defense Secretary Mark Esper] said at the time. The Senate version of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act does not contain funding for the paper; lawmakers will convene this fall to develop a joint version of the bill.

“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,” he said during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, following DoD’s $740 billion budget submission to Congress. Stars and Stripes is published in print and online.

While the paper, which is distributed to U.S. troops stationed at bases worldwide, maintains editorial independence, it receives federal funding as part of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Agency. About $8.7 million of the subsidy comes through operations and maintenance (O&M) funding, and about $6.9 million from contingency operations funds, Stripes said. The remainder of the Stripes annual budget comes from advertising, subscriptions and sales.

That $15.5 million annual subsidy is 0.002% of the Pentagon’s proposed $740 billion budget for 2021.

News about the impending shutdown of Stars and Stripes came in the same week that The Atlantic reported that Trump called American soldiers who died in the war “losers” and “suckers” and asked to keep veterans who had had limbs amputated out of a 2018 military parade because “nobody wants to see that.”

And for some background on what Stars and Stripes meant to the military under previous management, here’s a documentary about the newspaper produced by the Department of Defense in 1960.

August 24, 1944 issue of The Stars and Stripes marking the liberation of Paris via the Internet Archive.

POSTED     Sept. 4, 2020, 11:15 a.m.
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