Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (born January 12, 1951) is an American radio host and conservative political commentator. His nationally-syndicated talk show, The Rush Limbaugh Show, airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks. He has been credited with reviving AM radio in the United States, and is also considered to have been a "national precinct captain" for the Republican Party's Congressional victories in 1994. The National Review magazine, in a 1993 cover story, called him "The Leader of Conservative Principles " during the Clinton administration.
Limbaugh's birthdate was ranked as 175 in the Vietnam War draft lottery. No one was drafted above 125. However, he was classified as "1-Y" (later reclassified "4-F") due to either a football knee injury or a diagnosis of Pilonidal disease.
For the rest of the decade Limbaugh moved around to several radio stations before settling in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1979, after several years in music radio, he took a break from radio and accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Retired Kansas City Royals star George Brett is one of his best friends.
On August 1, 1988, after achieving success in Sacramento and drawing the attention of a former president of ABC Radio, Edward F. McLaughlin, Limbaugh moved to New York City and began his national radio show. His show debuted just weeks after the Democratic National Convention, and just weeks before the Republican National Convention. Limbaugh's radio home in New York City was the talk-format station WABC-AM, 770 AM, and continues to this day as his flagship station.
The program gained in popularity and moved to stations with larger audiences eventually growing to over 650 radio stations nationwide. When the Republican Party won control of Congress in 1994, one of the first acts by many freshmen (calling themselves the "Dittohead Caucus") was to award Limbaugh the title of "honorary member of Congress" in recognition of his support of their efforts during this period.
Humor columnist and journalist Lewis Grossberger acknowledged that Limbaugh had "more listeners than any other talk show host" and described Limbaugh's style as "bouncing between earnest lecturer and political vaudevillian".
Limbaugh's radio show airs weekdays for three hours daily, beginning at 12 noon Eastern time in the U.S. It also is carried worldwide over the Armed Forces Radio Network, and in some markets is carried on FM stations.
Radio broadcasting shifted from AM to FM in the late '70s because of the opportunity to broadcast music in stereo in FM, with better range and musical fidelity. Limbaugh's show was first nationally syndicated in August 1988, in a later stage of AM's decline. Limbaugh's popularity paved the way for other conservative talk radio programming to become commonplace on the AM radio. As of 2006, Arbitron ratings indicated that The Rush Limbaugh Show had a minimum weekly audience of 13.5 million listeners, making it the largest radio talk show audience in the United States. In 2007, Talkers magazine again named him #1 in its "Heavy Hundred" most important talk show hosts. Limbaugh frequently mentions the EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting) network, but this is a mythic construction, as he told the New York Times in 1990. In reality, his show was co-owned and first syndicated by Edward F. McLaughlin, former president of ABC who founded EFM Media in 1988, with Limbaugh's show as his first product. In 1997, McLaughlin sold EFM to Jacor Communications, which was ultimately bought up by Clear Channel Communications. Today, Limbaugh owns a majority of the show, which is syndicated by the Premiere Radio Networks. According to a 2001 article in U.S. News & World Report, Limbaugh had an eight-year contract, at the rate of $31.25 million a year. On July 2, 2008, Matt Drudge reported that Limbaugh signed a contract extension through 2016 that is worth over $400 million, breaking records for any broadcast medium — television or radio.
Fox was offended, as were people on both sides of the political spectrum who felt Limbaugh's parody of Fox was unfair or in poor taste. The possibility of a reasoned and civil discussion of stem-cell research was quickly overshadowed by dueling website and blog attacks. Proponents of stem-cell research immediately used this incident to raise funds for several Democratic candidates running for Congress, while detractors accused Fox of being just another partisan of Democratic candidates. Fox himself appeared on numerous news programs to explain his condition and to defend his advocacy for stem-cell research. As it turns out, Michael J. Fox was actually over-medicated in his stem cell ad.
Another controversy occurred during the September 26, 2007 broadcast of Limbaugh's radio show, when he used the term "phony soldiers", allegedly referencing a September 21 Associated Press story about individuals falsely claiming to be veterans in order to receive benefits. A caller, after saying he was currently serving in the Army and has been in 14 years, said, "They never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media." Limbaugh interrupted, "The phony soldiers." The caller continued, "The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country. Several minutes later, after the caller had hung-up, Limbaugh read from the AP story describing the story of Jesse Macbeth. Macbeth joined the Army but did not complete basic training, yet claimed in alternative media interviews that he and his unit routinely committed war crimes in Iraq. On June 7, 2007, Macbeth pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation. Media Matters noted Limbaugh's use of the term "phony soldiers" in an article on their website. The article suggested that Limbaugh was saying that all soldiers who disagree with the Iraq War were "phony soldiers, and their article received substantial press coverage after it was discussed in speeches by Presidential candidates John Edwards and Chris Dodd. Limbaugh argued that, when he had made the comment about "phony soldiers", he had been speaking only of Macbeth and others like him who claim to be soldiers and are not, and that "Media Matters takes things out of context all the time".
Media Matters disputed the accuracy of Limbaugh's claim and defended its story.
Among Limbaugh's detractors were members of VoteVets.org who produced a series of ads that ran on their website and on YouTube taking Limbaugh to task for insulting veterans who opposed the war. The members of VoteVets, a number of whom asserted they were conservative politically, told reporters that protesting the current war policy should not be a partisan issue, but most of the support they received after the Limbaugh controversy came from congressional Democrats.
On October 19, 2007, Limbaugh announced the winning bid in an eBay auction of a letter sent to Clear Channel Communications Chief Executive Officer Mark Mays by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "We call on you to publicly repudiate these [phony soldier] comments," the letter said, ". . . and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments. The auction's high bid of $2,100,100 by Betty Casey of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation set a new eBay record for largest charity bid. Shortly before the auction closed, Senator Reid addressed the Senate, saying, "I don't know what we could do more important than helping to ensure that children of our fallen soldiers and police officers who have fallen in the line of duty have the opportunity for their children to have a good education." In his radio broadcast later in the day, Limbaugh was critical of Reid's speech, saying Reid had tried "to horn in and act like he's part of this whole thing, folks." Limbaugh also said, "Senator Reid, you did not mention that I am matching whatever the final total is." Matching funds from Limbaugh would increase the total donation to the charity benefiting children of Marines and law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty to $4,200,200.
Dubbing the effort "Operation Chaos," Limbaugh says he intends to continue to encourage his listeners to vote for whoever is behind in the Democratic primary, to sow chaos and disunity among Democrats during a divisive primary battle. Limbaugh then began to advocate that his Republican listeners vote for Clinton, something the rules of the Texas primary permitted. According to a county volunteer, one voter declared "Rush Limbaugh sent me", another "I am voting for Hillary Clinton but I want to see the Democrats implode," and a great many others mentioning Limbaugh.
In Ohio, Limbaugh similarly encouraged his listeners to re-register as Democrats and vote for Clinton. Although Ohio does not use an open primary, voters who change their registration must attest that they support the principles of the party to which they switch. About sixteen thousand Ohio Republicans switched parties for the election. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections announced that, at the urging of Democrat Sandy McNair, the cross-overs would be investigated. Later, the Ohio Attorney General's office stated that it would be hard to prosecute anyone for falsifying a change of registration, because of the difficulty of proving a voter's fraudulent intent.
Limbaugh has said that "The dream end of this [of Operation Chaos] is that this keeps up to the Convention, and that we have a recreation of Chicago 1968 with burning cars, protests, fire, and literal riots and all of that, that is the objective here.
On December 17, 1993, Limbaugh appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Limbaugh also guest-starred (as himself) on a 1994 episode of Hearts Afire. He appeared in the 1995 Billy Crystal film Forget Paris, and in 1998 on an episode of the The Drew Carey Show.
Most recently, in 2007, Limbaugh has made cameo appearances on Fox News Channel's short lived The 1/2 Hour News Hour in a series of parodies portraying him as the future President of the United States. In the parodies, his vice president is fellow conservative pundit Ann Coulter. He also made a cameo in the Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest". In the episode, a parody of Star Wars, Limbaugh can be heard on the radio claiming that, among other things, the "intergalactic liberal space media" was lying about climate change on the planet Hoth, and that Lando Calrissian's administrative position on Cloud City was a result of affirmative action.
His persona has often been utilized as a template for a stereotypical conservative talk show host on TV shows and in movies, including an episode of The Simpsons (as a conservative talk radio host named Birch Barlow), as "Gus Baker" on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, as "Lash Rambo" (host of "Perfection in Broadcasting") on an episode of The New WKRP in Cincinnati, and as "Fielding Chase" in the Columbo Mystery Movie Butterfly in Shades of Grey (played by William Shatner).
As a result of his television program, Limbaugh became known for wearing distinctive neckties. In response to viewer interest, Limbaugh launched a series of ties designed primarily by his then-wife Marta. Sales of the ties reached over five million dollars (U.S.) in their initial sales year, but were later discontinued.
In July 2008, Limbaugh mentioned in an interview with the St. Louis Business Journal that he would like to buy his hometown St. Louis Rams and keep the team in St. Louis as opposed to the team possibly moving back to Los Angeles.
Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.
My comments this past Sunday were directed at the media and were not racially motivated. I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused discomfort to the crew, which I regret. I love Sunday NFL Countdown and do not want to be a distraction to the great work done by all who work on it. Therefore, I have decided to resign. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the show and wish all the best to those who make it happen.
McNabb's performance in the months following the controversial remarks contradicted Limbaugh's opinion. McNabb took his team first to the 2003 NFC Championship Game, and in the next season, on to Super Bowl XXXIX. McNabb's Eagles lost the NFC title to the Carolina Panthers. Fifteen months after Limbaugh's disparagement, McNabb ended the 2004 season by taking the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl, which they lost to the New England Patriots.
- I love being a conservative. We conservatives are proud of our philosophy. Unlike our liberal friends, who are constantly looking for new words to conceal their true beliefs and are in a perpetual state of reinvention, we conservatives are unapologetic about our ideals.
- We are confident in our principles and energetic about openly advancing them. We believe in individual liberty, limited government, capitalism, the rule of law, faith, a color-blind society and national security.
- We support school choice, enterprise zones, tax cuts, welfare reform, faith-based initiatives, political speech, homeowner rights and the War on Terrorism.
- And at our core we embrace and celebrate the most magnificent governing document ever ratified by any nation — the U.S. Constitution. Along with the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes our God-given natural right to be free, it is the foundation on which our government is built and has enabled us to flourish as a people.
- We conservatives are never stronger than when we are advancing our principles.
In his first bestseller, Limbaugh explicitly describes himself as conservative, and is sharply critical of broadcasters in all media for claiming to be objective.
Limbaugh is highly critical of environmentalism and climate science. He has disputed anthropogenic global warming, and the relationship between CFCs and depletion of the ozone layer, claiming the scientific evidence does not support them. Limbaugh has argued against the scientific opinion on climate change by stating that the alleged scientific consensus "is just a bunch of scientists organized around a political proposition. You can't have consensus in science... they think consensus is the way to sell it because, 'Oh, but all these wonderful people agree.' Limbaugh has used the term "environmentalist wacko" as a reference to left-leaning environmental advocates. As a rhetorical device, he has also used the term to refer to more mainstream climate scientists and other environmental scientists and advocates with whom he disagrees.
Limbaugh is sharply critical of feminism, saying that "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society. He also popularized the term "feminazi", referring to radical feminists "to whom the most important thing in life is ensuring that as many abortions as possible occur." He credited his friend Tom Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, with coining the term.
Limbaugh has always taken a hard-line stance on illegal immigration.
Limbaugh supports capital punishment, having said "the only thing cruel about the death penalty is last-minute stays."
On the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, Limbaugh said, "This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation... And we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day [referring to the U.S. Military service members]. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release?
Limbaugh has also been criticized for inaccuracies by the Environmental Defense Fund. A defense fund report authored by Princeton University endowed geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer and Princeton University professor of biology David Wilcove lists 14 significant scientific facts which, the authors allege, Limbaugh misrepresented in his book The Way Things Ought to Be. The authors conclude that "Rush Limbaugh ... allows his political bias to distort the truth about a whole range of important scientific issues."
In 1983, Limbaugh married Michelle Sixta, a college student and usherette at the Kansas City Royals Stadium Club. They were divorced in 1990, and she remarried the following year.
On May 27, 1994, Limbaugh married Marta Fitzgerald, a 35-year-old aerobics instructor. They were married at the house of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who officiated. They were separated on June 11, 2004. Limbaugh announced on the air, "Marta has consented to my request for a divorce, and we have mutually agreed to seek an amicable separation. As I said, it's a personal matter and I want to keep it that way. I don't intend to say any more about this on the air." The divorce was finalized in December 2004.
A subsequent investigation into whether Limbaugh had violated Florida's doctor shopping laws was launched by the Palm Beach State Attorney, which raised privacy issues when investigators seized Limbaugh's private medical records looking for evidence of crimes. On November 9, 2005, following two years of investigations, Assistant State Attorney James L. Martz requested the court to set aside Limbaugh's doctor-patient confidentiality rights and allow the state to question his physicians, stating it was necessary because "I have no idea if Mr. Limbaugh has completed the elements of any offense yet. Limbaugh's attorney opposed the prosecutor's efforts to interview his doctors on the basis of patient privacy rights, and argued that the prosecutor had violated Limbaugh's Fourth Amendment rights by illegally seizing his medical records. The ACLU issued a statement in agreement and filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Limbaugh.On December 12, 2005, Judge David F. Crow delivered a ruling prohibiting the State of Florida from questioning Limbaugh's physicians about "the medical condition of the patient and any information disclosed to the health care practitioner by the patient in the course of the care and treatment of the patient.
On April 28, 2006, Limbaugh and his attorney, Roy Black, went to the Palm Beach County Jail to surrender after a warrant was issued for his arrest on the charge of doctor shopping. According to Teri Barbera, spokeswoman for the Sheriff, during his arrest, Limbaugh was booked, photographed, and fingerprinted, but not handcuffed. He was then was released after about an hour on $3,000 bail. After his surrender, he filed a "not guilty" plea to the charge. Prosecutors agreed to drop the charge if Limbaugh paid $30,000 to defray the cost of the investigation and completed an 18-month therapy regimen with his physician.
Limbaugh asserted that the state's settlement agreement resulted from a lack of evidence supporting the charge of "doctor shopping." Under the terms of the agreement, Limbaugh may not own a firearm for eighteen months and must continue to submit to random drug testing, which he acknowledges having undergone since 2003.
Roy Black, one of Limbaugh's attorneys, stated that "Rush Limbaugh was singled out for prosecution because of who he is. We believe the state attorney's office is applying a double standard.
In June 2006, Limbaugh was detained by drug enforcement agents at Palm Beach International Airport shortly after cutting the deal on the painkiller charges in April. Customs officials confiscated Viagra from Limbaugh's luggage as he was returning from the Dominican Republic. The prescription was not in Limbaugh's name. After he was released with no charges filed, Limbaugh joked on his radio show, "I had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it.
Limbaugh was the 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2005 recipient of the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year (given by the National Association of Broadcasters), joining the syndicated Bob & Tom Show as the only other four-time winners of a Marconi award. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 2002, Talkers magazine ranked him as the greatest radio talk show host of all time. Limbaugh is the highest-paid syndicated radio host.
In 1992, Limbaugh published his first book, The Way Things Ought To Be, followed by See, I Told You So in 1993. Both became number one on the New York Times Best Seller list, The Way Things Ought to Be remaining there for 24 weeks. Limbaugh acknowledges in the text of the first book that he taped the book and it was transcribed and edited by Wall Street Journal writer John Fund. In the second book, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily is named as his collaborator.