Conservative radio host, hypocrite and homophobic gasbag Rush Limbaugh has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 70 years old.
Limbaugh made a career through a mixture of incendiary, ultra-Right Wing rhetoric. He launched his radio career in 1971 as a somewhat innocuous DJ in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Over the next decade, he toiled in various DJ and radio host positions around the nation until the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1984. Removal of the regulation allowed radio stations to express a political viewpoint without also expressing opposing views. In other words, it afforded Limbaugh the opportunity to spew ultra-conservative beliefs without any kind of balance.
Limbaugh’s often hateful rhetoric earned him a reputation as one of the biggest names in radio, and one of the nastiest. He came under fire for charges of racism after mocking African American callers, politicians and community leaders such as Jesse Jackson, and also charged that African Americans hate the United States and are systematically trained to not be productive members of society. Limbaugh also claimed that an increasing Latino population would lead to the collapse of American democracy through too much diversity. Over the years Limbaugh also argued against the concept of sexual consent and popularized the term “feminazi” to denigrate assertive women.
On the subject of LGBTQ issues, Limbaugh took a predictably homophobic stance, defending the inaction of President Ronald Reagan during the AIDS epidemic, arguing that Reagan protected the heterosexual population. He also attacked the rights of gay Americans to live and love openly, and opposed same-sex marriage. He also criticized hate crime laws. Most recently, he attacked Pete Buttigieg–then a Democratic Presidential candidate–claiming that he could never with the Presidency because he was gay.
Charming, isn’t it?
Limbaugh’s career flowered throughout the 1980s and ’90s, until well-publicized struggles with drugs and health took a toll on his professional life. He was arrested in 2006 in Palm Beach County, Florida over charges of prescription fraud. He also admitted to having an addiction to opioid painkillers. His battles with addiction are also ironic, given his long advocation of mandatory-minimum sentences for drug offenses.
In later years, Limbaugh also began to spread unfounded conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, climate change and Black Lives Matter, among many others. In 2019, media watchdog group Politifact found that a staggering 84% of Limbaugh’s statements were demonstrably false. In his final year, Limbaugh also charged that COVID-19 was nothing more than “the common cold,” and blamed gay people for the nationwide lockdown.
Rush Limbaugh died February 17, just over a year after getting diagnosed with lung cancer. As a heavy smoker, Limbaugh had also publicly questioned the link between smoking and cancer.
Regardless of personal opinions of Rush Limbaugh’s politics, we can all agree: the world is better off without one more toxic gasbag polluting the air.