BREAKING: Longtime radio host and conservative talk icon Rush Limbaugh has died at age 70
Rush Limbaugh, top conservative radio host, outspoken to telling the truth, died at the age of 70. Rush Limbaugh an outspoken lover of cigars, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. His death was announced on his website.
President Trump, during a State of the Union speech, awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
He called himself an entertainer, but his well spoken rants during his three-hour weekday radio show broadcast on nearly 600 U.S. stations shaped the national political conversation, swaying ordinary Republicans and the direction of their party.
Blessed with a made-for-broadcasting voice, he delivered his opinions with such certainty that his followers, or “Ditto-heads,” as he dubbed them, took his words as sacred truth.
Forbes magazine estimated his 2018 income at $84 million, ranking him behind only Howard Stern among radio personalities.
Limbaugh took as a badge of honor the title “most dangerous man in America.” He said he was the “truth detector,” the “doctor of democracy,” a “lover of mankind,” a “harmless, lovable little fuzz ball” and an “all-around good guy.” He claimed he had “talent on loan from God.”
He suggested that the Democrats’ stand on reproductive rights would have led to the abortion of Jesus Christ.
His idol, Ronald Reagan, wrote a letter of praise that Limbaugh proudly read on the air in 1992: “You’ve become the number one voice for conservatism.” In 1994, Limbaugh was so widely credited with the first Republican takeover of Congress in 40 years that the GOP made him an honorary member of the new class.
During the 2016 presidential primaries, Limbaugh said he realized early on that Trump would be the nominee, and he likened the candidate’s deep connection with his supporters to his own. In a 2018 interview, he conceded Trump is rude but said that is because he is “fearless and willing to fight against the things that no Republican has been willing to fight against.”
Trump, for his part, heaped praise on Limbaugh, and they golfed together. (The president’s Mar-a-Lago estate is eight miles down the same Palm Beach boulevard as Limbaugh’s $40 million beachfront expanse.) In honoring Limbaugh at the State of the Union, Trump called his friend “a special man beloved by millions.”
Limbaugh influenced the likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and countless other conservative commentators who pushed the boundaries of what passes as acceptable public discourse.
His brand of blunt, no-gray-area debate spread to cable TV, town hall meetings, political rallies and Congress itself, emerging during the battles over health care and the ascent of the tea party movement.
Rush Limbaugh will remain one of the greatest radio hosts in America.
“The Rush Limbaugh Show” debuted on August 1, 1988 on a handful of AM radio stations across the country. In the more than 30 years since, there have been many memorable moments and a few long-running gags that helped make the show – and its host – popular among a wide swath of the population.
Many years, Limbaugh, who died Wednesday at age 70, would reminisce each Aug. 1 about his first program and how the show had grown. On Aug. 1, 2017, Mike from Plymouth Meeting, Pa., called into the program to offer his own memory of that very first show.
“I caught you on your very first broadcast on [WABC] radio station AM 770. My wife and I were on our way to the Jersey Shore. I heard you talking, and I said to my wife, “What did he say his name was?” Mike recalled. “And she said, ‘I think he said ‘Rush.’’ And I said, ‘Man, I don’t know who he is, but I sure like what he’s saying. He’s saying what I’m thinking,’ and I’ve been listening ever since.”
Many callers to the show had stories just like Mike’s, offering Limbaugh “mega-dittos” – a spin on Limbaugh’s “DittoHead” nickname for listeners who agree with him – about how Limbaugh drew them into his program with a combination of humor and politics, and at times helped broaden their worldview.