The venerable Marine Corps Times, for years a source of independent news both bad and good about the U.S. Marine Corps, is being evicted from its familiar newsstand at checkout stations and moved to the back of base-exchange stores, the paper is reporting.
The move raises troubling questions about motive and closely follows a directive prohibiting commanders from using budget funds to buy Marine Corps Times and a number of other publications.
The paper, a subsidiary of newspaper giant Gannett, Inc., publisher of USA Today, says that its investigation of Marine commandant Jim Amos may be at the heart of the move.
Throughout much of the past year, the paper has published dozens of articles as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations the service’s commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, abused his authority to ensure Marines were punished for an embarrassing war-zone scandal.
Spokesmen for the commandant’s office would not answer questions about whether Amos or his staff was aware of or involved in the decision to relocate the newspaper, but a source with knowledge of the new directive said it was approved with the commandant’s knowledge.
“It is no secret [in the Pentagon] that the commandant does not like Marine Corps Times,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The Marine Corps Times reports that the commandant's office referred questions regarding the eviction down the line to Manpower & Reserve Affairs, which said "the paper was moved as part of a plan to 'professionalize' the front of the exchanges," a position disputed by the paper's vice president and general manager, Peter Lundquist.
“For any retailer to hide one of its best-selling products is just bad business. It obviously will hurt our newsstand sales, but it also hurts revenues to the Exchange.
“But I’m told this isn’t about business.
“Marine Corps Times helps Marines and their families stay informed about their service and their livelihood. We believe our independence is an asset to Marines.
“By what standard is Marine Corps Times not professionally oriented reading material, and who is setting that standard for Marines?”