Rush Limbaugh, the most influential conservative talk-radio icon who advanced conservative ideas for over three decades, died Wednesday at the age of 70 after a year-long battle with advanced lung cancer.
Limbaugh’s wife, Kathryn announced the sad news on his radio show.
“I know that I am most certainly not the Limbaugh that you tuned in to listen to today,” Kathryn said on-air before adding that her husband had passed away in the morning from lung cancer at the beginning of his show. “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.”
Former President Trump called into Fox News shortly after the news broke in his first TV interview since leaving the White House to reflect on the life of his friend and prominent supporter. Trump said the last time he spoke to Limbaugh was “three or four days ago,” and described the conservative icon as “irreplaceable” and “unique.”
“Three or four days ago I called him,” Trump said. “His fight was very, very courageous and he was very, very sick and, you know, from diagnosis on. It was just something that was not going to be beat, but you wouldn’t know it.”
“He was very brave — I mean he in theory could have been done four months ago, really. He just, he was fighting till the very end. He was a fighter,” Trump added.
Last October, Limbaugh disclosed that his cancer had progressed and his condition was heading in the wrong direction.
“It’s tough to realize that the days where I do not think I’m under a death sentence are over,” Limbaugh told his radio listeners. “From the moment you get the diagnosis, there’s a part of you every day, OK, that’s it, life’s over, you just don’t know when. … So, during the period of time after the diagnosis, you do what you can to prolong life, do what you can to prolong a happy life.”
“So we have some recent progression. It’s not dramatic, but it is the wrong direction,” Limbaugh added.
He went off the air on Feb. 2.
Limbaugh announced in February 2020 he had been diagnosed with advanced Stage IV lung cancer and was being treated.
The conservative radio host told viewers that although his cancer treatment may lead him to miss shows, his “intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program and normally and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day.”
A day later, former President Trump awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a surprise announcement during the 2020 State of the Union address. Trump thanked the radio icon for his “decades of tireless devotion to our country,” saying the honor bestowing the media recognizes “all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity.”
“Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a Stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis,” Trump said of Limbaugh during the State of the Union Address. “This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”
The king of conservative talk-radio was generous with his wealth. Limbaugh was once ranked fourth on Forbes’ list of most generous celebrities, having donated $4.2 million to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, about 13% of his earnings, the publication said. He also used his radio show to gather his listeners to donate to various charities throughout the years, raising millions of dollars for those in need.
“The Rush Limbaugh Show, which started syndication in 1988, is the most-listened-to radio talk show in the U.S., according to Nielsen Audio, reaching more than 20 million monthly listeners that airs for three hours each weekday and is on more than 650 affiliates as of the end of 2020.
Limbaugh leaves behind a unique legacy in both politics and media that helped to usher in an era of conservative media.