Rush Limbaugh, the influential conservative radio host, has died from complications of lung cancer, his wife Kathryn announced on his radio show Wednesday. He was 70 years old.
“It is with profound sadness, I must share with you directly, that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer,” she said. “As so many of you know, losing a loved one is terribly difficult, even more so when that loved one is larger than life. Rush will forever be the greatest of all-time.”
“Despite being one of the most recognized powerful people in the world, Rush never let the success change his core or beliefs,” she added. “He was polite and respectful to everyone he met.”
Last February, Limbaugh broke the news of his cancer diagnosis to his listeners. “I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this. But the upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer,” he said at the time.
Just one day later, former President Donald Trump awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. Mr. Trump thanked Limbaugh for his “decades of tireless devotion” to the nation.
The radio host found common ground with Mr. Trump, who was known for his large media presence and divisive comments, long before his presidency. Before the 2016 election, Limbaugh treated the former president as a serious contender, amplifying his platform to his millions of listeners. He praised Mr. Trump for his bombastic and “savvy” media strategy.
Throughout the Trump administration, Limbaugh used his radio show to express support for some of Mr. Trump’s most controversial policy decisions.
Limbaugh, a Cape Girardeau, Missouri, native, began his career in radio at the age of 16 years old. After working his way up from stations, he moved from disk jockey to radio host by peppering his broadcasts with sound effects and fast words, a departure from most broadcasts. While he left radio for a short time while struggling to find wide approval, he launched his self-titled radio show in 1988, which quickly became one of the most popular conservative talk shows.
Limbaugh was the winner of multiple broadcast awards, including entrance into both the Radio Hall of Fame and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Limbaugh made headlines for his controversial comments and was routinely accused of bigotry, sexism and racism for his fiery remarks. Over the years, he offered various apologies for accusing Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his Parkinson’s symptoms, calling law school student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” and for promoting the false theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
Limbaugh was also a heavy smoker who enjoyed cigars. He often claimed the medical risks of smoke and secondhand smoke were false and were suppressed by health officials.
In a 1991 interview with “60 Minutes,” Limbaugh acknowledged that others have called him both sexist and homophobic, which he denied. “I’m none of those things. I am simply someone who views events in life and comments on them. I have my own version of what’s right and wrong.”
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