The Trump administration ordered the shutdown of Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that has served U.S. forces since 1861. This emerges from a Pentagon memo received from USA Today.
The Department of Defense ordered the newspaper̵
“The last newspaper release (in all forms) will be September 30, 2020,” the memo author, Col Paul Haverstick Jr., was quoted as the writer.
Haverstick Jr. is the director for Defense Media Activity (DMA) in Fort Meade, Maryland. According to the Pentagon website, DMA is “a mass media and education organization that creates Department of Defense content on a variety of platforms and distributes it to audiences around the world.”
Stars and Stripes goes back to Bloomfield, Missouri, in November 1861, when troops under future President Ulysses S Grant took over the printing press of a Confederate sympathizer.
It has traditionally delivered messages without government censorship, often critical of military and civilian commanders, and is delivered daily to troops around the world, even on the front lines.
Efforts to close the paper began in February when the Pentagon announced plans to reallocate funds to projects like the Space Force, a vicious and satirized pet project run by Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, Military.com reported that a bipartisan group of senators led by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein had written to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
“Stars and Stripes is an integral part of our nation’s freedom of the press, serving the very people charged with defending that freedom,” wrote the 15 senators. “With this in mind, we respectfully ask that you revoke your decision to end your support for Stars and Stripes and reinstall the funds required to continue operations.”
Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down in Iraq, signed Feinstein’s letter. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Trump who was an attorney for the U.S. Air Force, wrote her own letter.
Stars and Stripes didn’t immediately post a comment on Wednesday, but shared a tweet from one of its writers, Steve Beynon.
“I read Stars and Stripes on a mountain in Afghanistan when I was a 19-year-old aspiring journalist,” he wrote. “I work there now. That doesn’t stop journalism. I am juggling three future messages today. “
Beynon recently reported on a report of women in command of combat units and staff who accused the Department of Veterans Affairs of “ingrained racism.”
Kathy Kiely of the Missouri School of Journalism, The one who posted news of the memo in USA Today wrote, “Even for those of us who are all too tired of President Donald Trump’s disdain for journalists, his administration’s recent attack on the free press is a bit mind-boggling . “
When news of the Pentagon memo reverberated in the US media, the White House wavered from a report in the Atlantic in which the president belittled the US Marines killed in France in World War I and made disrespectful remarks on John McCain, a late politician, had made rivals and Vietnam veterans and wounded soldiers in general.
Trump dismissed the report, insisting, “I have never called our great fallen soldiers anything but HEROES. This is rather fake news given by disgusting and jealous failures in a shameful attempt to influence the 2020 election! “
In the case of McCain, observers pointed to a tweet from 2015 in which Trump described the senator and presidential candidate who died in 2018 as a “loser”.
On condition of anonymity, a former cavalry officer stationed twice in Iraq spoke to the Guardian: “For Stars and Stripes, this is probably more a sign of the times than anything else.
“An independent media company that focuses exclusively on the military and its communities should be a priority for the Department of Defense to keep those communities informed – even if they are physically separated.”
The same veteran was saddened by Trump’s reported statements about soldiers killed, wounded or captured in action.
“Anyone who is shocked or surprised about this is simply not paying attention,” he said. “See his prisoner-of-war comments when you talk about McCain.”