(CNN)Before a bombshell story in The Atlantic revealed eye-popping allegations that President Donald Trump had referred to America's fallen soldiers as "losers" and "suckers," another story was making its way into the ether without much notice.
Trump's military controversy might save Stars and Stripes
In February of 2020, the Pentagon ordered Stars and Stripes, the longtime publication serving United States' service members, to shutter, demanding that the last newspaper publication be September 30, 2020.
That's according to a little publicized memo from Col. Paul Haverstick, Jr., recently obtained by USA Today, in which he claims the administration has the authority to red-line the $15.5 million annual subsidy for Stars and Stripes in the President's fiscal year 2021 Defense Department budget, indicating the order comes from the top.
It's no surprise, given President Trump's seething disdain for the media and its coverage of him. After a wave of outrage at the news, Trump seemed to realize the move would not endear him to a key constituency. He tweeted, triumphantly and as if totally divorced from the initial demand:
"The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!"
Ultimately, this will be Congress's decision. And they would be wise to ignore the DoD order.
Stars and Stripes is not just any publication. It's been a vital resource for US troops and veterans for more than 150 years, making this decision an infuriating one for those who believe the military deserves better than to be a casualty of Trump's petty politics of revenge.
Stars and Stripes is, in one aspect, the local news provider on US military bases around the world. It is read by enlisted and deployed troops here and overseas, veterans and civilians for its coverage of important stories to the military community. It is also an important agent of investigative journalism. From veteran suicides and sexual assault to Covid-19 on bases, military housing issues and defense spending, Stars and Stripes has been on the literal front lines for more than a century.
I spoke to several current and former Stars and Stripes reporters, editors, photojournalists and loyal readers, who expressed a deep sense of concern and urgency over the decision, and they explained why Stripes is such an important part of their community.
Bryce Dubee, a veteran and former Stripes reporter, was an active duty Army soldier when he was assigned as a reporter to the Tokyo Bureau for three years. For him, the newspaper is invaluable to families stationed overseas.