Rush Limbaugh, US conservative radio host, dies aged 70

Washington: Provocative and polarising US talk radio luminary Rush Limbaugh, a leading voice on the American political right since the 1980s who boosted and was honoured by former president Donald Trump, has died at the age of 70 after suffering from lung cancer, his family has announced.

Limbaugh, who pioneered the American media phenomenon of conservative talk radio and became an enthusiastic combatant in the US culture wars, had announced in February 2020 that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.

Rush Limbaugh, pictured at a rally for President Trump in 2018, has died. Credit:AP

Limbaugh’s appeal and the success of his top-rated radio show arose from his brash and colourful style, his delight in baiting liberals and Democrats and his promotion of conservative and Republican causes and politicians. His radio show became nationally syndicated in 1988 and quickly built a large and committed following, making him wealthy in the process.

Trump, a former reality TV personality with a showman’s instincts who pursued right-wing populism during four years in the White House, awarded Limbaugh the highest US civilian honour – the Presidential Medal of Freedom – during his 2020 State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

First lady Melania Trump placed the medal around his neck after her husband lauded Limbaugh as “a special man beloved by millions of Americans” and “the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet”.

Rush Limbaugh, centre, receives the Medal of Freedom from then-first lady Melania Trump during Donald Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address.Credit:AP

Illustrating Limbaugh’s divisiveness, some Democratic lawmakers were heard groaning “oh no” while House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi – one of his favourite punching bags – sat in stony silence.

Trump honoured Limbaugh a day after the radio star announced his cancer diagnosis. Limbaugh at the time said he planned to continue to do his program “as normally and as competently” as he could while he underwent treatment.

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