Rush Limbaugh, purveyor of hate, Dies at 70

Rush Limbaugh, who died two weeks ago at 70, was the face of modern American conservatism. The Rush Limbaugh Show accumulated more than 40 million weekly listeners, making it the most listened to radio show in the United States. In 2020, Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh gained notoriety in the 1990s after the repeal of the FCC fairness doctrine, which would have required broadcasters to always present both sides of issues in an equitable manner.
Limbaugh’s radio career was marked by racist comments; his stances on immigration, his islamophobic comments, and disparagement of minorities have greatly fueled modern white supremacist movements. He has also frequently expressed anti-LGBTQ sentiments, calling homosexual practices unhygienic and mocking the deaths of gay individuals with HIV/AIDS. Limbaugh’s misogynistic comments included dismissal of the concept of sexual consent and espousement that “no means yes.” As a critic of modern science, Limbaugh routinely used the term “environmentalist wacko” to refer to both climate scientists and people that believe in climate change.
Limbaugh began his career in radio after dropping out of college in 1971 and DJing a small music station in Pennsylvania. Over the next six years, he worked at a variety of radio shows, never lasting more than two years before being fired due to “personality conflicts.” In 1979, Limbaugh quit radio, considering himself a failure, and worked sales for the Kansas City Royals, traveling to Europe and Asia on business trips. Limbaugh cites these trips as helping to develop his brand of conservatism as he considered the places he visited to have lower standards of living.
Limbaugh returned to radio in 1983, broadcasting under his real name for the first time. In 1988, he was recruited by the New York City based conservative talk show WABC, and by 1990 was nationally recognized and broadcasted on more than 650 stations, due in part to his fervent support of the Gulf War. During the Clinton presidency, Limbaugh frequently attacked both the President and First Lady, helping to secure the 1994 midterm elections for the Republican party. By 2000, Limbaugh was a household name across the country. After a brief stint as a sports commentator in 2003, he resigned after controversy surrounding racist comments about a Black quarterback. A few months later, Limbaugh sought treatment for opiate addiction, and three years later, he was arrested for prescription fraud, but his record was later expunged. While some stations dropped Limbaugh’s program in the 2010s and 2020s, Limbaugh maintained dominance in American media until his death on February 17th.

Ian Marsden from Montpellier, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Limbaugh leaves behind a legacy of hate in America. Decades of railing against minorities, women, science, and anything that might infringe upon the privilege of wealthy cis white men made Limbaugh a hero to far-right conservatives and a harbinger of doom for America. Almost 20 percent of eligible voters listened to Limbaugh weekly, gathering hate by the truckload to disseminate in their daily lives. By normalizing xenophobia, racism, misogyny, LGBTQ-phobia, and mistrust of science, Limbaugh ensured that America’s plutocracy will be around for generations to come. In his death, we must treat Limbaugh with the same respect he treated victims of the AIDs pandemic – none at all.