Pentagon Backtracks, Says Stars and Stripes Won’t Be Forced to Close

U.S. Military
U.S. soldiers wearing protective masks are seen during a handover ceremony of Taji military base from US-led coalition troops to Iraqi security forces, in the base north of Baghdad, Iraq August 23, 2020. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

The Pentagon reversed its decision to close the independent military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, after President Donald Trump assured the public the paper would not lose its funding.

In an email obtained by The Associated Press, the acting director of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Activity, Colonel Paul R. Haverstick, Jr., told Stripes’ publisher, Max Lederer, that he no longer had to present a plan to dissolve the newspaper. 

Previous story: Military Newspaper “Stars and Stripes” Threatened With Closure is Safe for Now

The military newspaper dates back to the Civil War, and has been published continuously since World War II. Printed copies are delivered to on-duty soldiers around the globe so that they can have access to news in areas where the Internet is inaccessible. The paper is funded by the Department of Defense but is editorially independent.

Following national backlash after the decision to shutter the paper was made public, Trump tweeted on September 4th that he would oppose defunding the paper, despite the fact that his budget request for 2021 cut the newspaper’s funding in half. 

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

The President had been battling reports that he had called soldiers who died in World War I “losers” and “suckers.” Multiple news outlets accused the president of using the Stars and Stripes controversy to improve his reputation with military families.

The Associated Press