Reactions over the death of longtime conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh divided Twitter into two camps Wednesday, marking the same kind of polarizing divide that characterized his long broadcast career.
Fans in the conservative political and media space praised him as an “American icon” while critics castigated him as a “career bigot.”
Limbaugh died at the age of 70, after being diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer in February of last year. The news of his passing came from his wife Kathryn, who made the announcement during her husband’s typical show time.
“I know that I am most certainly not the Limbaugh that you tuned in to listen to today,” Kathryn Limbaugh said. “I, like you, very much wish Rush was behind this golden microphone right now, welcoming you to another exceptional three hours of broadcasting. … 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.”
Twitter blazed with reactions immediately, with many conservative figures and politicians offering condolences, reminiscing on Limbaugh’s devotion to speaking his mind and beliefs, lauding him as a pioneer for conservatives.
Rush Limbaugh revolutionized American radio. His voice guided the conservative movement for millions every day.
Rest In Peace, Rush.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) February 17, 2021
1/3 Rush Limbaugh had unrelenting boldness to proclaim the truth. Watching his wit, passion, and willingness to hold the media accountable informed my entire career.
Growing up in Plant City, Florida, my dad would always play the Rush Limbaugh program in his pick-up truck…
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) February 17, 2021
Limbaugh sparked reactions at the other end of the spectrum as well, with some actors and comedians expressing a lack of sympathy over his passing, highlighting the long-term impact of his words.
Rush Limbaugh had a segment called "AIDS update" set to music where he mocked dying gay people so I don't really want hear about 'speaking ill of the dead' today
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) February 17, 2021
Fellow radio personalities and television hosts also offered their condolences, as well as perspectives on his impact in the industry. “History counts few entertainers among those who made a difference in the country. Rush Limbaugh did” Bill O’Reilly said. See more reactions below.
The legacy of Rush Limbaugh is clear: the most successful radio broadcaster in history. Mr. Limbaugh provided a conservative balance against the dangerous left wing corporate media machine.
— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) February 17, 2021
Broadcast Legend Rush Limbaugh has died. His legions of fans will miss him, and his powerful and bright contribution to our national dialogue is a treasure that will endure for decades to come. Rush Limbaugh, a great American, dead at 70. God bless you Rush.
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh was an icon. He revolutionized talk radio. He built stations, he built an industry.
KTTH will always be the Seattle station for Rush Limbaugh.
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) February 17, 2021
Regardless of where you stand politically, there's no denying that Rush Limbaugh was a media giant who single handedly created one of the most successful formats in broadcasting.
— Dustin Matthews (@radiofletcher) February 17, 2021
As a kid, my Dad would drive me home and Rush Limbaugh would be on. This is during the Clinton years. His poetic way with words could paint a picture unlike any other. As time went on, we would disagree however, I admire the man for his dedication to radio and broadcasting.
— Spencer Graves (@SpencerGraves) February 17, 2021
Once I learned my aunt listened to Rush Limbaugh, I knew never to speak to that aunt again. Thanks, Rush!
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) February 17, 2021
Happy Rush Limbaugh Is Dead Day! I didn't even get the chance to put my tree up!
— Cristela Alonzo (@cristela9) February 17, 2021
RIP Rush Limbaugh. Born in 1951 and remained there the rest of his life
— Matt Oswalt (@MattOswaltVA) February 17, 2021
When thinking about Rush Limbaugh’s passing it’s important to remember Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day soy candles are 2 for $20 on Amazon.
— Natasha Rothwell (@natasharothwell) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh was a giant. With his straightforward, simple articulation of conservatism, he inspired millions. He was one-of-a-kind and he will be missed.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh often said “I have talent on loan from God.” He understood that our gifts on this earth are not our own — they’re a blessing. He shared his gifts with all of us. And we’ll miss him dearly.
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) February 17, 2021
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh made conservatism popular with the entire nation and revolutionized conservative media. He will be missed by all of his “ditto heads,” this one included. Our country has lost one of its most important voices. Sending prayers to the Limbaugh family.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) February 17, 2021
Rest In Peace Rush Limbaugh. An incredible media talent and a vitally important voice in the conservative movement. He will be missed throughout this country.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) February 17, 2021
God bless Rush Limbaugh and his family. He has been one of the strongest conservative voices for decades. He has inspired so many Americans, including myself. May he FOREVER Rest In Peace.
— Lance Gooden (@Lancegooden) February 17, 2021
Rush Limbaugh revolutionized conservative media. Today, we lost a great American icon. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/A4QHmutKbl
— Lynn Fitch (@LynnFitchAG) February 17, 2021
Limbaugh received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump at the 2020 State of the Union address, revealing his diagnosis to his listeners the next day.