Stars and Stripes, the independent military newspaper that's informed the troops while sometimes being a thorn in the side of the brass since the Civil War, has been told to close up shop. The Trump administration proposed slashing its $15.5 million funding in February, Axios reports, but the House funded the paper anyway. The publisher has now been ordered to develop a plan to shut down the operation, print and online, by the end of the month. Stars and Stripes has been especially unpopular with military and political leaders in the past couple of decades, per the New York Times, because it has published accounts from uniformed personnel that contradicted their bosses about ongoing wars. "Unique among Department of Defense authorized news outlets," its website says, "Stars and Stripes is governed by the principles of the First Amendment."
A group of 15 senators from both parties has asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper to reconsider, saying that an agency with a budget of $700 billion should be able to find $15.5 million somewhere. "Stars and Stripes is an essential part of our nation's freedom of the press that serves the very population charged with defending that freedom," their letter said. The first issue was printed when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's troops took over a newspaper office in Bloomfield, Mo., after its publisher—a Confederate sympathizer—had fled. Grant's force included troops who were pressmen by trade, and they went to work. Stars and Stripes now says it has 1.3 million total readers. "I read Stars and Stripes on a mountain in Afghanistan when I was a 19 year old aspiring journalist. Now I work there," tweeted veteran and journalist Steve Beynon. "This doesn’t stop the journalism. I'm juggling 3 future news stories today." (Read more Defense Dept stories.)