Radio host Rush Limbaugh dies
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative commentator who transformed the media landscape with his off-the-cuff, no-holds-barred style, has died. He was 70. His fans saw him as a conservative hero, deserving of the nation’s highest civilian honor. At the 2020 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom “in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity.” Accusations of racism, sexism, and hypocrisy also followed him throughout his career, and at times he apologized for hurtful remarks such as the time he accused actor Michael J. Fox of exaggerating his tremors from Parkinson’s disease. But even Limbaugh’s critics could not deny his lasting influence on how American media outlets talk about politics—and life.
How did he make such an imprint? His big break came in 1987, when the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine, a rule that required broadcast stations to air contrasting views on controversial matters. Limbaugh, who had been on the radio for a few years in Sacramento, Calif., could suddenly express his conservative political views unencumbered. In 1988, he landed a nationally syndicated show on WABC-AM out of New York City. His success became a road map for how AM radio could survive as a talk show platform as music shifted to FM for its superior sound quality.
Limbaugh often encouraged listeners to give to various charities, and he gave $4.2 million to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. In 2008, he ranked fourth on the Forbes list of most generous celebrities. An addiction to painkillers threatened to derail his career when it became public in 2003. He entered rehab and made a deal with prosecutors to avoid criminal charges. Around the same time, he lost his hearing but was able to continue as a radio host with the help of Cochlear implants. He married his fourth wife, Kathryn Rogers, in 2010.
Limbaugh often mentioned on his show that he believed in God, and his brother David is a devout Christian who has written several books about the Bible and apologetics. Just over a year ago, Limbaugh announced on the air that he had lung cancer, saying he was relying on God to get him through it. “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he later said. “It is of immense value, strength, confidence and that’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to.”
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.
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