The pioneer of conservative talk radio Rush Limbaugh died at age 70 following a fight with lung cancer, his family announced Wednesday.
Limbaugh transformed the political talk radio landscape, launching “The Rush Limbaugh Show” 33 years ago and broadcasting to millions of listeners for decades.
First Lady Melania Trump presented Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union address last year, one day after the host revealed he had advanced-stage lung cancer.
“Thank you for your decades of devotion to our country,” Trump said in the prime time Capitol address.
Limbaugh later said he initially had surgery scheduled for 5:00 p.m. the day of the speech but changed his schedule to be in attendance with no idea he would be granted the highest civilian honor.
“Remember, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I had no clue. He’s told me he’s going to present me with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, but a couple weeks from now,” Limbaugh told his listeners days later. “I had no idea at this point, on Tuesday morning, that this was going to happen at the State of the Union. … Of all the things you think might happen to you in your life, this is not one of them.”
Limbaugh finished his final broadcast last year and thanked his audience for listening to his program longer than his prognosis had forecasted.
“I wasn’t expected to be alive today,” Limbaugh said. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December. And yet, here I am, and today, got some problems, but I’m feeling pretty good today.”
Limbaugh was one of few conservative pundits to take Trump seriously at the start of his candidacy in the 2016 election, helping catapult the New York businessman to Republican nominee and eventually president.