SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) — Conservative talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh has died, his family announced on Wednesday.
The family shared a message confirming Limbaugh’s death at the start of his show. His death comes just over a year since he announced he had started treatment for lung cancer.READ MORE: Northstate University Graduates Excited For First In-Person Ceremony At Golden 1 Center Since Pandemic Began
A Republican party icon, Limbaugh hosted “The Rush Limbaugh Show” in national syndication for 31 years. His early career took him to several cities across the country – including in Sacramento, where Limbaugh’s success caught the ear of ABC Radio.
Limbaugh was 70 years old.
Many took to Twitter to share their thoughts and pay tribute to Limbaugh’s memory:
I’ll never be able to hear The Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone” without thinking of el Rushbo. R.I.P. ❤️
— Alyssa Farah (@Alyssafarah) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh often said “I have talent on loan from God.” He understood that our gifts on this earth are not our own — they’re a blessing. He shared his gifts with all of us. And we’ll miss him dearly.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh, we will miss you!
— Fr. Frank Pavone (@frfrankpavone) February 17, 2021
Unflinchingly conservative, wildly partisan, bombastically self-promoting and larger than life, Limbaugh galvanized listeners for more than 30 years with his talent for vituperation and sarcasm.
He called himself an entertainer, but his rants during his three-hour weekday radio show broadcast on nearly 600 U.S. stations shaped the national political conversation, swaying ordinary Republicans and the direction of their party.
Blessed with a made-for-broadcasting voice, he delivered his opinions with such certainty that his followers, or “Ditto-heads,” as he dubbed them, took his words as sacred truth.
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RIP Rush Limbaugh. Listening to Rush during my lunch break when I worked at a gym after college inspired me to get into politics in the first place. No one can, nor ever will, fill his shoes. Prayers for the Limbaugh family.
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) February 17, 2021
“In my heart and soul, I know I have become the intellectual engine of the conservative movement,” Limbaugh, with typical immodesty, told author Zev Chafets in the 2010 book “Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One.”
Forbes magazine estimated his 2018 income at $84 million, ranking him behind only Howard Stern among radio personalities.
Limbaugh took as a badge of honor the title “most dangerous man in America.” He said he was the “truth detector,” the “doctor of democracy,” a “lover of mankind,” a “harmless, lovable little fuzz ball” and an “all-around good guy.” He claimed he had “talent on loan from God.”
Long before Trump’s rise in politics, Limbaugh was pinning insulting names on his enemies and raging against the mainstream media, accusing it of feeding the public lies. He called Democrats and others on the left communists, wackos, feminazis, liberal extremists, faggots and radicals.
When actor Michael J. Fox, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, appeared in a Democratic campaign commercial, Limbaugh mocked his tremors. When a Washington advocate for the homeless killed himself, he cracked jokes. As the AIDS epidemic raged in the 1980s, he made the dying a punchline. He called 12-year-old Chelsea Clinton a dog.
So sad to see the death of Rush Limbaugh, he was a conservative radio phenomenon for decades and gave the silent majority a voice.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) February 17, 2021
He suggested that the Democrats’ stand on reproductive rights would have led to the abortion of Jesus Christ. When a woman accused Duke University lacrosse players of rape, he derided her as a “ho,” and when a Georgetown University law student supported expanded contraceptive coverage, he dismissed her as a “slut.” When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Limbaugh said: “I hope he fails.”
He was frequently accused of bigotry and blatant racism for such antics as playing the song “Barack the Magic Negro” on his show. The lyrics, set to the tune of “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” describe Obama as someone who “makes guilty whites feel good” and is “black, but not authentically.”
Limbaugh often enunciated the Republican platform better and more entertainingly than any party leader, becoming a GOP kingmaker whose endorsement and friendship were sought. Polls consistently found he was regarded as the voice of the party.
His idol, Ronald Reagan, wrote a letter of praise that Limbaugh proudly read on the air in 1992: “You’ve become the number one voice for conservatism.” In 1994, Limbaugh was so widely credited with the first Republican takeover of Congress in 40 years that the GOP made him an honorary member of the new class.
During the 2016 presidential primaries, Limbaugh said he realized early on that Trump would be the nominee, and he likened the candidate’s deep connection with his supporters to his own. In a 2018 interview, he conceded Trump is rude but said that is because he is “fearless and willing to fight against the things that no Republican has been willing to fight against.”
Trump, for his part, heaped praise on Limbaugh, and they golfed together. (The president’s Mar-a-Lago estate is eight miles down the same Palm Beach boulevard as Limbaugh’s $40 million beachfront expanse.) In honoring Limbaugh at the State of the Union, Trump called his friend “a special man beloved by millions.”
3/3 He has built a legacy that will endure for many generations to come and will continue to inform our country.
Thank you, Rush, for all you have done for this nation. The United States of America is better because of you.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) February 17, 2021
Limbaugh influenced the likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and countless other conservative commentators who pushed the boundaries of what passes as acceptable public discourse.
His brand of blunt, no-gray-area debate spread to cable TV, town hall meetings, political rallies and Congress itself, emerging during the battles over health care and the ascent of the tea party movement.MORE NEWS: Body Of Teen Who Went Missing While Swimming In American River Found
Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.