President Donald Trump has reversed the order of the Pentagon to have Stars and Stripes military newspaper shut down by September 20. He said his administration will not be cutting funding to the newspaper and this essentially means the military media source will remain in operation, contrary to what the Department of Defense would have wanted.
“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 decision of Trump came with the new battle he is facing with a report published by The Atlantic suggesting that the president in 2018 called American soldiers who died in WWII “losers and suckers”. Trump on Friday vehemently denied that he called dead veterans by disparaging terms, saying only an animal would do that and swearing that he never did so.
However, the situation has provided Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden, with fodder for electioneering campaigns.
Political analysts said it is doubtful if Trump would have reversed the Pentagon’s order regarding Stars and Stripes if The Atlantic had not published the expose of his disparaging remarks against war veterans in the light of the coming presidential election in November.
This is large because the president did not address the issue in any way since August 4 when the Pentagon sent a memo for the military newspaper to shut down by September, despite the fact that over 15 lawmakers in the House had voiced their opposition to the situation.
According to the order, the Defense Department said they would be cutting the $15.5 million funding which represents 35% of Stars and Stripe’s revenues from the newspaper. Signed by the acting director of Pentagon’s Defense Media Activity, Colonel Paul Haverstick, the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned the newspaper to shut down on September 15 and publish its last edition on September 30.
The government said in a case where the newspaper secures other forms of funding by any extraordinary means, then it may continue production but must shut down by September 30, 2021.
Senator Lindsey Graham on August 26 wrote to Esper to reconsider the continued funding for the newspaper given that many soldiers and their families as well as other businesses depend on the media for military news and information.
“I urge you not to take actions that would deprive individuals of this publication until Congress has appropriately completed the appropriations process,” Graham wrote. “Given the history and the importance of the Stars and Stripes to the members of the Armed Forces, their families, and civilian employees, I believe this request is more than reasonable.”
Defense Secretary Esper did not reply to the letter. But given the president’s intervention, it seems Stars and Stripes will continue to get government funding for continued operations.