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The Trump administration pulled funding in its 2021 budget for Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military news organization that has published a daily newspaper continuously since World War II for troops stationed around the world.
At a Thursday press conference in Belgium, Defense Secretary Mark Esper explained the rationale behind the decision to withhold approximately $15.5 million in funding for Stars and Stripes.
“So, we trimmed the support for Stars and Stripes because we need to invest that money, as we did with many, many other programs, into higher-priority issues,” Esper said.
The Pentagon’s 2021 spending proposal is $705.4 billion.
Stars and Stripes relies on government funding to cover half its budget, the news organization said, with the other half coming from a combination of sales, subscriptions and advertising in its print and online editions.
Though Stars and Stripes is funded as part of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Activity, the paper maintains its editorial independence and says it reaches a daily audience of 1 million readers.
In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, the paper published an article about a press conference held by retired military officers who questioned Trump’s ties to Russia, headlined: “Former admirals and generals warn Trump is 'dangerous' to military and country.”
But it has been evenhanded in its coverage of the administration, reporting that the Air Force found “nothing improper” about service members who attended Trump’s 2018 visit to Ramstein Air Base in Germany wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats.
It is unclear whether the paper will survive the funding cuts.
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