The Missouri native became a rock 'n' roll radio DJ and sports radio host before rising to national attention in the late 1980s with a syndicated conservative talk show on AM radio

By Diane J. Cho
February 17, 2021 02:37 PM
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Rush Limbaugh, the man whom President Ronald Reagan once called "the number one voice for conservatism in our country," made his impact on radio for upwards of three decades before he died early Wednesday morning. He was 70.

"For over 32 years, Rush has cherished you, his loyal audience, and always looked forward to every single show," Limbaugh's wife Kathryn announced, during his eponymous radio show. "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 Limbaugh
| Credit: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

The controversial radio host of The Rush Limbaugh Show became an on-air sensation after going national in 1988, and has since had a major influence in shaping conservative ideals.

Credit: Shepard Sherbell/CORBIS SABA/Corbis via Getty

Most recently, he falsely and repeatedly said on his show the day after the 2021 inauguration that President Joe Biden did not win the election — this after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and left five people dead weeks prior. Democrats, Limbaugh falsely said, "know that this is something that's been arranged rather than legitimately sought and won." 

As his loyal fans, who call themselves "Dittoheads," mourn the death of the radio giant, read on to revisit some of Limbaugh's most controversial quotes. 

Rush Limbaugh in 2003
| Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage
  • He began airing “Barack, the Magic Negro,” a racist parody song about then-Sen. Barack Obama’s popularity with many white voters, in 2007.
  • In John K. Wilson's book, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason, the host was quoted as saying this homophobic statement: "When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it's an invitation." 
  • In his "Undeniable Truths," written as part of an article for the Sacramento Union in 1988, Limbaugh wrote, "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."
    • In a later updated version, he wrote:
      • "The Earth's eco-system is not fragile."
      • "Women should not be allowed on juries where the accused is a stud."
      • "The Los Angeles riots were not caused by the Rodney King verdict. The Los Angeles riots were caused by rioters."
  • On The Rush Limbaugh Show in 2004, he said, "I think it's time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call 'em gangs."
  • As a young broadcaster in the 1970s, Limbaugh once told a Black caller: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back,” according to Fair.
  • During The Rush Limbaugh Show in 2013, he said, "If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it's Caucasians. The white race has probably had fewer slaves and for a briefer period of time than any other in the history of the world."
  • During The Rush Limbaugh Show in 2017, regarding LGBTQ+ politicians being elected to office, he said, "I guarantee there'd be some people in the Republican establishment who will now think, yeah, we need to do this. We need to provide a home, we need to provide a comforting atmosphere for the tranny community and the gay community. But those people are voting Democrat anyway."
  • " 'Ching cha. Ching chang cho chow. Cha Chow. Ching Cho. Chi ba ba ba. Kwo kwa kwa kee. Cha ga ga. Ching chee chay. Ching zha bo ba. Chang cha. Chang cho chi che. Cha dee. Ooooh chee bada ba. Jee jee cho ba.' Nobody was translating, but that's the closest I can get," he said on his radio show while "translating" Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2011.
  • Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she publicly advocated for universal contraception coverage, NPR reported in 2012.