Newspapers: Stars and Stripes Funding Threatened

In an effort to keep active duty frontline soldiers uninformed, the new Pentagon budget would cut all funding for the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

The proposed cuts to the editorially independent news organization, which is partially funded by the Pentagon, were a product of the recent defense-wide review ordered by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, said Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon’s acting comptroller. That review sought to find funding that could be moved from non-military applications into warfighting coffers.

“We have essentially decided coming into the modern age that newspaper is probably not the best way we communicate any longer,” McCusker told reporters Monday at the Pentagon during a briefing to discuss the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal.

Stars and Stripes’ ombudsman, Ernie Gates, on Twitter defended the mission of the media organization against McCusker’s comment.

“Stars and Stripes’ mission is not to communicate the DOD or command message, but to be an independent, First Amendment publication that serves the troops — especially deployed troops,” Gates wrote. “So ‘we communicate’ misses the mission.”

Stars and Stripes carries the story.

As does the Military Times:

“Stars and Stripes has provided a valuable service to millions of military members and the Department of Defense (DoD) for more than 70 years,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said in a statement to Military Times. “Their hard work and dedication in reporting on issues that matter the most to the military community continues to be of value.”



Veterans point to the value of Stars and Stripes:

“I grabbed hard copies of Stars and Stripes outside the [dining facility] on [Combat Outpost] Speicher [in Iraq], and it was a lifeline to what was happening back home. Read it front to back every day I could,” said John Ismay, a former Navy lieutenant commander who handled bomb disposals and now is a New York Times reporter.

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at the Stars and Stripes mission.

[Ernie] Gates wrote, Stars and Stripes is “an independent, First Amendment publication.” I asked him what that looks like in practice, given the operational and financial involvement of the federal government. He told me, in an email, that the arrangement does entail some limitations. Stars and Stripes journalists are Pentagon employees, and are barred from revealing classified information and running editorials (though they can publish secrets revealed by other outlets, as well as outside opinions). Nonetheless, Gates said, “Stripes is part of a free press—free of censorship, free of command interference, free of prior restraint or prior review.” Its reporting on the military, he added, “is analogous to the freedom a commercial news organization should have to report on its business side or ownership.”


Stars and Stripes provides news AND entertainment.


More about Stars and Stripes comic strips and panels.


During World War II Stars and Stripes ran Ekly and Willie and Joe, among others.


Stars and Stripes and Vietnam had cartoonists Corky Trinidad and Vernon Grant.



One thought on “Newspapers: Stars and Stripes Funding Threatened

  1. Gotta take money from Stars and Stripes to replenish some of what DFT has been poaching for his “beautiful” “wall.” The one that’s being built by cowboy construction pals of his who trust to luck that the wind won’t blow while the cement is setting.

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