Following his passing on Wednesday at the age of 70, Christian leaders and former presidents shared their thoughts on the life and career of legendary conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who is credited with paving the way for alternative media voices.
Limbaugh hosted “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” a nationally syndicated radio show, for more than 30 years and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump at the State of the Union address last year.
“My heartfelt condolences and prayer for the family of Rush Limbaugh, who passed away today after a battle with lung cancer,” tweeted Rev. Franklin Graham, a prominent evangelical leader and son of the late legendary evangelist Billy Graham.
“He was a conservative voice of reason for so many years and will be greatly missed.”
Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the socially conservative activist organization ‘The Family Leader’ and an influential figure in Iowa politics, described Limbaugh as “a pioneer in talk radio and free speech.”
“Rush demonstrated – long before the advent of social media – that it is possible to raise an alternative voice to the mainstream media that isn’t dependent on major news conglomerates and their gatekeepers,” Vander Plaats, who also served as the national co-chair for the Ted Cruz for President campaign in 2016, said.
“Christian talk radio hosts, in particular, likely wouldn’t even exist today without Rush proving there is an audience out there hungry for thought, opinion and discussion that goes beyond the popular culture narrative.”
As explained on his radio show’s website, Rush launched his radio broadcast into national syndication with 56 radio stations in 1988.
“Now, 32 years later, the show is heard on more than 600 stations by up to 27 million people each week and is the highest-rated national radio talk show in America.”
Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn Limbaugh, announced the death of her husband on the radio show Wednesday.
“It is with profound sadness I must share with you directly that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer,’
“Rush will forever be the greatest of all time.”
“Rush was an extraordinary man, a gentle giant, brilliant, quick-witted, genuinely kind, extremely generous, passionate, courageous, and the hardest-working person I know. Despite being one of the most recognized, powerful people in the world, Rush never let the success change his core or beliefs.”
Limbaugh was widely seen as a pioneer who paved the way for other conservative voices to a breakthrough in the media, which liberal-leaning organizations dominated at the time.
While the mainstream media remains overwhelmingly liberal as a whole, plenty of alternative news sources now exist, including Fox News, One America News Network and Newsmax, as well as websites such as The Daily Wire and The Daily Caller.
Ben Shapiro, the Daily Wire founder, referred to Limbaugh as “the creator of talk radio and by extension the alternative media.”
Shapiro said he was an “indispensable and iconic conservative voice.”
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter called Limbaugh the “super nova of American conservatism.”
Limbaugh announced his diagnosis with stage 4 lung cancer in early 2020.
Throughout his battle with the disease, the talk radio host repeatedly spoke about how his relationship with God helped him cope with the diagnosis.
As he informed his listeners of his prognosis, he told them that “I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about, but I do, and I have been working that relationship tremendously.”
“I believe prayer works. I know it does,” Limbaugh said as he provided his listeners with an update about his health in July.
He credited his “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” as a source of “immense value, strength, (and) confidence” as he shared an update about his condition in October.
“That’s why I’m able to remain fully committed to the idea that what is supposed to happen will happen when it’s meant to,” he said.
“There is some comfort in knowing that some things are not in our hands. There’s a lot of fear associated with that, too. But, there’s some comfort. It’s helpful to be able to trust and believe in a higher plan.”
The day after Limbaugh’s diagnosis with lung cancer, the talk radio host appeared as a guest at then-President Trump’s State of the Union address. Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, describing the outspoken conservative commentator as “the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.” Trump thanked him for his “decades of tireless devotion to our country.”
Trump called into Fox News Wednesday to react to Limbaugh’s death. He described the broadcaster as “irreplaceable,” “unique” and “a fantastic man.”
“A hundred percent of that room respected Rush,” the former president said, referring to both Democrats and Republicans gathered in the House chamber to hear the State of the Union. “He had an insight that few people have.”
“He loved the country, he loved his wife and his family and he loved his fans,” Trump continued.
Describing Limbaugh as a “legend,” he contended that tuning in to his radio show was like “a religious experience for a lot of people.”
Additional reactions quickly poured in from other prominent conservatives as well as Christian leaders.
Former President George W. Bush issued a statement in honor of the man he said served as “a friend throughout my Presidency.”
Acknowledging that he was “brash” and “at times controversial,” Bush maintained that Limbaugh “spoke his mind as a voice for millions of Americans and approached each day with gusto.”
“As he battled hearing loss and cancer late in life, he was sustained by the support of friends and family, his love of sports and rock and roll, and his belief in God and country. Rush Limbaugh was an indomitable spirit with a big heart, and he will be missed.”
In addition to hosting his radio program, Limbaugh also co-authored a series of children’s books with his wife designed to “teach American history in a fun and engaging way so young readers could truly understand the story of our founding.”
He wrote five books featuring the time-traveling substitute history teacher “Rush Revere” and his talking horse, “Liberty,” experiencing the earliest moments of American history firsthand, from the pilgrims’ arrival to the War of 1812.