“The Stars and Stripes, from the day it began publication as an eight-page weekly in London, was mad, unreasonable, implausible of behavior in the midst of an army's orderliness, a refuge for eccentrics.
“But at the same time it was a well-written, well-edited, colorful, accurate, professional newspaper with (whether or no you wanted to admit it) higher editorial and moral standards than a great many civilian papers.
“It was, on the authority of the army's high command, ‘the most important single factor’ affecting the morale of the men who smashed and conquered Axis Europe.”—Bud Hutton and Andy Rooney, The Story of the Stars and Stripes (1946)
The armed-forces newspaper Stars and Stripes had actually been around, in other incarnations, dating back to the Civil War. But when it was revived on this date in 1942, its reappearance was stunning. The tabloid was announcing to Europe—many of whose countries still fell under the dark shadow of totalitarianism—that one of the freedoms for which the American soldier was fighting was embodied in the product they read.
In many ways, working on Stars and Stripes was the formative experience of future CBS veteran Andy Rooney. It wasn’t only that, as a 22-year-old sergeant assigned to this unit, he learned his trade in proximity to pros such as Homer Bigart, Ernie Pyle and Walter Cronkite, but that he came by attitudes that informed much of the rest of his life. He found Ernest Hemingway and General George Patton, for instance, to be poseurs—and resented the latter, in particular, for trying to make the newspaper into a mere mouthpiece of the military. The future 60 Minutes curmudgeon-at-large was in embryo.
On the other hand, while many American intellectuals of the Fifties unfavorably compared Dwight Eisenhower to their favorite, Adlai Stevenson, as an out-of-touch figurehead addicted to wandering prose, Rooney remembered gratefully the commander who allowed him and his compatriots to report honestly and largely without censorship on the conflict that broke the backs of Fascism and liberated a continent.