Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born on January 12, 1951 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. His father was a lawyer, and there were a number of other lawyers in his family, including his grandfather, who was a lawyer until he was 102. Rush turned off this path. His academic career was a dead end – he left the state of southeast Missouri – but he had his first radio show in high school under the name Rusty Sharpe.
In his early years on the radio, he moved from station to station, for example as a DJ at “Solid Rockin ‘Gold” WIXZ in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. At some point he worked for the Kansas City Royals and years later tried unsuccessfully to help Royals legend George Brett buy the team.
In 1984 he landed in Sacramento, California and began building a following. Limbaugh – and others who tended to talk about politics in the air – got help in 1987 when Reagan’s Federal Communications Commission ended the Fairness Doctrine, which required stations to give competing positions the same time. “Ronald Reagan tore this wall down in 1987 (perhaps as spring training for Berlin) and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to declare himself free from East German liberal media rule,” said Daniel Henninger wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2005.
His show was syndicated nationwide in 1988. New satellite technology made it easy and relatively inexpensive to broadcast your programming to many stations. “Limbaugh was an almost instantaneous phenomenon that filled the lunchtime slot on talk stations that blossomed in the AM band in the late 1980s and early 90s,” wrote Marc Fisher in his book Something in the Air. “He made local station owners happy with his mix of controversy, showmanship and sales skills.”
In his new place, Limbaugh had no qualms about being outrageous or offensive. A collection of his “hits” from the 1990s would include: “Have you ever noticed how all the composite images of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?” And, “The best thing about a tree is what you do with it after you get it have liked. ” And: “Feminism was born to give unattractive women easier access to mainstream society.”
He branded feminists as “Feminazis”, joked about people dying of AIDS, and made noises simulating airborne abortions.
“In Limbaugh’s comedy commentary, the disadvantaged are only subjects of contempt, and anyone who believes they are helping such people is a fool,” wrote David Remnick in 1994.
Regardless, Limbaugh’s show was picked up by more and more broadcasters. In 1992 he also started a syndicated TV show and his book “The Way Things Ought to Be” was a big best seller. All but his most ardent enemies admitted that he was a seasoned racing driver; His mastery of the medium earned him a place in the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. A Dittoheads singles group in California was said Looking for love in the right places.
The growth of his audience coincided with the growing influence of Gingrich, a Georgia Congressman who had no qualms about abandoning civic discourse in the name of electoral success. In 1994 the Republicans took the house, made Gingrich the spokesman and made Limbaugh the unofficial top cheerleader of the new majority. Over the decade, Limbaugh Clinton made himself a thorn in the side. “Bill Clinton is possibly the most effective practitioner of the class struggle since Lenin,” he said at one point.
Sometimes Limbaugh left the cocoon of his loyal audience and things backfired. ESPN commissioned him in 2003 to write a football commentary, an experiment that ended quickly and clumsily when he suggested that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because “the media wanted a black quarterback to do well” .
His TV show only lasted four years, but his radio show remained a powerhouse. In 2008 he signed a new eight-year contract that earned him $ 50 million a year. “I’m not going to retire until every American agrees.” he said back then.
That year, the election of Obama (whom he derided as “half-African American”) to the presidency gave him someone to re-convict. “Never in my life have I seen such a regime that deliberately governs against the will of the people,” he wrote in 2010 of the president.
At regular intervals the little fires of controversy that always surrounded him flared up and threatened to devour him. Media Matters of America, a liberal surveillance organization founded by David Brock, monitored his shows for any outrage in an attempt to get advertisers to bail out against him. Sometimes he gave them ammunition, like in 2006 when he accused actor Michael J. Fox of faking symptoms of his Parkinson’s.
In 2012, Limbaugh described Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University student, as a “slut” and a “prostitute” after testifying to a congressional committee about contraception. This time his utterances hit a nerve. “Limbaugh’s recent attack on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke was irresponsible and hideous,” Brock said wrote.
Obama called Fluke to offer his support, which sparked renewed ridicule from Limbaugh. Dozens of sponsors withdrew from his show, and Limbaugh rarely apologized to Fluke. “I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the offensive wording,” he said.
He was also on the news for legal issues arising from what he called prescription drug addiction in 2003. Limbaugh was arrested in 2006 for improperly receiving these drugs. He settled the case in 2009 without going to jail.
And it stayed in the air, no longer unique in its approach, but still a strong force.
“For 20 years, three hours a day,” wrote Wolff in 2009, “nothing on the radio has moved audiences to action like Rush: The Republican base is buying both used cars that it should buy and campaigning for the causes . ” he’s hot. Nothing in politics or the news cycle is as direct and powerful as this. In a matter of seconds, it can move an incredible flood, trigger emails, phone calls and creepy anger on the website. “
Trump recalled the State of the Union speech in which he awarded Limbaugh the Medal of Freedom and recalled the partisans’ response to the announcement in the Chamber of the House on Wednesday.
“Half of this room went crazy. You remember the evening well, I’m sure it was in some ways a very unique moment in our country’s history,” said the former president. “Half of them just went crazy, the other half sat completely still. But 100 percent of this room respected Rush. He was a one-of-a-kind guy and he became a friend of mine.”
Limbaugh was married four times; Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas served at his third wedding and pop superstar Elton John sang at his fourth. He is survived by Rogers, whom he married in 2010.