Updated Feb 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rush Limbaugh dies at 70 after battle with lung cancer

Rush Limbaugh
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer, his wife announced on his radio show.

The big picture: Limbaugh was one of the most influential conservative media personalities in the country for over three decades. The provocative radio host was a prominent Trump supporter and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union last year after his cancer diagnosis.

Between the lines Limbaugh leaves behind a unique and controversial legacy in both politics and media.

  • He was for many years one of the most listened-to radio broadcasters in the country, with up to 15 million listeners per week. At one point, he was also the highest-paid broadcaster on terrestrial radio.
  • Limbaugh had a long history of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks. His political positions were often echoed by Republican lawmakers, and later conservative web bloggers.

Limbaugh's success also helped to usher in an era of right-wing terrestrial radio dominance, made possible after the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to give equal time to points of view on both political sides of the aisle, in the late 1980s.

Driving the news: Former President Trump called into Fox News — his first TV interview since leaving office — shortly after the news of Limbaugh's death to reflect on the life of his friend and supporter.

  • Trump said he had last spoken to Limbaugh "three or four days ago," and that the radio host was "very sick" but "very courageous."
  • "From diagnosis on, it was just something that was not going to be beaten. But you wouldn't know it ... He, in theory, could have been gone four months ago. He was fighting till the very end," the former president said.

Trump went on to promote the lie that he won the 2020 election, and claimed that Limbaugh was angry and agreed with his false conspiracy theory that it was rigged.

Go deeper: Read the New York Times' obituary

Go deeper