Conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh, whose brand of talk radio galvanized much of the current political moment by pushing conspiracy theories and demonizing members of the Democratic Party, has died of lung cancer.
Limbaugh was the host of his radio show The Rush Limbaugh Show, which has been in national syndication on AM and FM radio stations. His death was announced earlier today on his program by his wife Kathryn.
Limbaugh’s career was one that courted significant controversy for his often inflammatory comments about issues such as immigration and climate change. Limbaugh was also a noted science denier who claimed for years that the 2010 BP Oil Spill had not actually harmed the environment. He went so far as to blame the disaster on extremist environmental activists despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Limbaugh often pushed conspiracy theories that the Covid-19 pandemic is overblown, downplaying the scale of devastation nationwide even as the United States continues to lead the world in total number of deaths from the coronavirus.
Last spring, he claimed stay-at-home orders come at the expense of wrecking the economy in a monologue on his show.
“Are we just going to sit by and watch $22 trillion — that’s the value, that’s the sum total of the GDP, that’s the U.S. economy — are we just going to sit by here and watch it evaporate?” he said on his program at the time. “Because that’s what we’re doing, under the guise of not losing any unnecessary life — meaning we want to try to save as many lives as we can.”
Limbaugh also previously suggested without evidence that the media has been exaggerating hospital rates.
“One of the things that interests me is the hospitalization numbers,” Limbaugh said. “Because if you look at Drudge, if you look at the drive-by media, you would believe there is not a single hospital bed in this country, right? You have been led to believe that every hospital is overflowing. That dead bodies are in body bags and refrigerated trucks that are being parked off to landfills or whatever.”
A prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, Limbaugh regularly attacked Democrats for pushing back against his controversial presidency, characterizing Trump’s first impeachment trial as a partisan sham. Limbaugh received the Presidential Medal of Freedom during Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address.
Limbaugh was one of Trump’s most loyal defenders even as Trump continued to claim without evidence that the 2020 election was fraudulent, actions that culminated in the January 6 Capitol insurrection and his second impeachment and Senate trial.
In November, he walked back remarks he made earlier declaring Joe Biden the winner of the presidential race.
“The guy that won did not have any kind of massive, pro support. He was just the vessel, he was just the recipient of whatever anti-Trump sentiment there was,” Limbaugh said in response to statements made by sports columnist Jason Whitlock, who’d expressed hope President Donald Trump would edge out Biden eventually.
“I just got this note from Bret Baier at Fox News saying that I’ve conceded the election. He wants to know if that’s true. ‘Did you concede the election?’” Limbaugh said later after returning from a short break. “I didn’t say that. I’m dealing in some hypotheticals here, but I’ve never conceded the election. I’ve never said that this was over. I’ve never said that.”
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.