Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Trump reverses course on shutting down Stars and Stripes

"After an outcry from U.S. lawmakers, President Donald Trump on Friday said his administration would not be shutting down the Stars and Stripes military newspaper as announced by the Pentagon earlier this year," Idrees Ali reports for Reuters.

Trump's tweet came the day after The Atlantic "reported that he had referred to Marines buried in an American cemetery near Paris as 'losers' and declined to visit in 2018 because of concern the rain that day would mess up his hair," Ali reports. "Trump, who has touted his record helping U.S. veterans, has strongly denied the report," which is based on the testimony of four independent anonymous sources with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day.

The paper is editorially independent but funded with $15.5 million by the Department of Defense. It provides daily print and online news to U.S. troops all over the world, many of whom don't have reliable access to the internet or news. The paper had a circulation of about 7 million as of 2019, Ali reports.

The Pentagon's 2021 fiscal year budget, released in February, called for the Stars and Stripes to halt publication by Sept. 30. "Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the move an effort to reallocate the money, which represents a fraction of the military’s $705 billion budget, 'into higher-priority issues,'" Jack Brewster reports for Forbes.

The House included funding for the paper in an appropriations bill it passed this year, but the Senate hasn't acted yet. A bipartisan group of senators has protested the move for months, but didn't get much traction until The Atlantic's story came out, Brewster reports.

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