Rush Limbaugh: A Tribute | Daniel Hawker
Celebrities, media personalities and politicians (including most notably former President Trump) have spent the last few days paying tribute to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio show host, who died on 17 February at age 70, following an almost year-long battle with advanced Stage 4 lung cancer.
Active in a media landscape dominated by leftist ideologues, Limbaugh was unvarnished and uncompromising in his love of country and of freedom. A true pioneer in American political radio, being active for his entire adult life, his brazen conservatism and bombastic tone influenced many prominent conservative voices in modern America. A Fox News Special Report stated after his death; “He changed the paradigm of talk radio. He changed politics, actually”.
Born in Missouri in 1951 to a homemaker mother and lawyer/fighter-pilot father, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III began his radio career at the mere age of 20, after dropping out of college. Throughout the 1970s, Limbaugh hosted many different shows, but it was as the host of a public affairs talk show in 1975 that he began expressing the controversial opinions for which he would become known for. Deciding to use his real name for the first time in 1983, Limbaugh landed the role of host of a show in Sacramento a year later and, thanks to the FCC’s repeal of the ‘fairness doctrine’, there was no need for the show to present any opposing viewpoints. Limbaugh’s work in Sacramento would garner the attention of former ABC Radio President Edward McLaughlin, and Limbaugh would soon begin hosting a new show in New York City.
Following its syndication in 1988, The Rush Limbaugh Show would go on to attract millions of listeners over its lifetime on air, serving as an outlet for Limbaugh to voice his views, which included his support for military intervention in the Middle East, his criticism and dismissal of climate change and environmentalism (strongly opposing the Green New Deal), and his fervent opposition to feminism, the adherents of which Limbaugh referred to as ‘feminazis’.
No stranger to controversy or critique, the radio show has been the subject of a constant slew of accusations for essentially, its entire existence, ranging from sexism and bigotry to Islamophobia and racism – he notably referred to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007 as the “magic negro”. Despite his fierce criticism of the former president, primarily from the perspective of increased government intervention, Limbaugh stated that he wanted to ‘see Obama’s policies fail, not the man himself’.
Whilst leftists may have scorned him for such incidents, it must be noted the enormous amount of work Limbaugh and his staff did for charitable causes: from 1990 until his death, Limbaugh held an annual fundraising telethon (the ‘EIB Cure-a-Thon) for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on his show, with the event having raised about $50M in total, with Limbaugh himself having donated well over $1,000,000 of his own money to the cause. Aside from that, Limbaugh also aided in collecting contributions in order to provide the orphaned children of Marine or law-enforcement parents who’d died in the line of duty with scholarships.
The show also hosted many notable guests, including then-President George H.W. Bush in 1992, his son George W. Bush an astonishing six times and W. Bush’s vice-president Dick Cheney also. Aside from commanders-in-chief, Limbaugh also spoke to many Secretaries of State, Governors (notably Sarah Palin and Arnold Schwarzenegger) and even Sylvester Stallone.
Following his cancer diagnosis in January of 2020, he was invited by then-President Trump to be a special guest at the State of the Union Address, where he seated alongside others such as Juan Guaidó, the interim president of Venezuela and many U.S. army veterans and servicemembers. During the address, President Trump announced to the crowd that Limbaugh would be receiving the highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was bestowed upon Limbaugh by then-First Lady Melania Trump. The look of immense surprise and gratitude on Limbaugh’s face is simply priceless.
Despite his use of some blatantly offensive and indefensible rhetoric over the years, Limbaugh’s views and positions had been a constant in American life for decades, and he was a caring and charitable philanthropist. Referred to President Trump rightly as a ‘legend’, Rush Limbaugh will be sorely missed, by his family and friends, by his fans, and by all those who saw him as an unrelenting and tireless thorn in the side of the leftist MSM and a passionate defender of rightist ideals – writing in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger referred to Limbaugh as “the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination”. Whether you wholeheartedly agreed with Rush or were his most vocal critic, it is clear that his years of radio were a staple of American conservative media, and it will be a very different place without him.
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (1951-2021), May He Rest In Peace