Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio host, dead at 70

By Brian Niemietz

New York Daily News

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 70.

The conservative broadcaster was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Feb. 4, 2020, one day after he announced his diagnosis.

The Missouri native was one of the nation’s highest-paid radio personality, according to Forbes, which put his net worth at $600 million. His $87 million annual income is second only to Howard Stern’s deal with SIRIUSXM.

Limbaugh had four marriages, including his last one to party planner Kathryn Rogers, 43, whom he wed in 2010. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas officiated wedding number three.

He famously used the term “Femi-nazi” to describe women’s rights advocates and said in 2015 that “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of pop culture.”

Limbaugh was unflinchingly supportive of former President Donald Trump, who bestowed upon him the nation’s highest civilian honor during the 2020 State of the Union address.

He was known for his fiery and articulate rhetoric, which was always impassioned, though not necessarily accurate.

Fact-checking outlet PolitiFact found the majority of Limbaugh quotes they reviewed were to some degree false, including his assertion that “the evolution crowd” is proven wrong by the fact that gorillas don’t turn into human beings overnight.

“I’ve always had a question: If we were the original apes, then how come Harambe is still an ape, and how come he didn’t become one of us?” Limbaugh asked in 2016, referring to an ape in the Cincinnati Zoo who was killed by zookeepers after a child fell into his enclosure.

Limbaugh, a cigar smoker for 30 years, had expressed skepticism over the dangers of smoking. He also compared COVID-19 to the common cold in February and falsely told his more than million listeners there had been 18 other COVIDs.

“The Rush Limbaugh Show” was syndicated in 1988 and served as the prototype for the modern-day right-wing media movement.

Vanity Fair once likened his influence among conservatives to Oprah Winfrey’s sway with women. He is credited with heavily influencing voters in 1994 when Republicans won the House of Representatives during President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Limbaugh was also a top-selling author, despite attending only one year of college at Southeast Missouri State University, where he reportedly “flunked everything,” according to his mother. She reportedly told a biographer her outspoken son only seemed interested in being on the radio.

In 2014, he won the Author of the Year award at the Children’s Choice Book Awards for his work on “Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans.”

“I love America,” Limbaugh said after receiving that honor from young readers. “I wish everybody did.”

The book was commercially successful, despite being panned by literary critics including Kirkus reviews, which called it “exceptionally bad.”

He credited conservative intellectual William F. Buckley a role model, calling the influential commentator “indescribable” and “irreplaceable” after his death in 2008.

In his last broadcast of 2020, an emotional Limbaugh told listeners he didn’t expect to see the end of the year and was grateful he did.

“Because I have outlived the diagnosis, I’ve been able to receive and hear and process some of the most wonderful, nice things about me that I might not have ever heard had I not gotten sick,” he said. “How many people who pass away never hear the eulogies, never hear the thank-yous?”