For other members of the Limbaugh family, see Limbaugh family. For radio show, see The Rush Limbaugh Show.
Limbaugh in 2009
|Born||Rush Hudson Limbaugh III|
(1951-01-12) January 12, 1951 (age 67)
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, U.S.
|Residence||Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Southeast Missouri State University(did not graduate)|
|Occupation||Radio host, political commentator|
|Salary||US$84 million (2017[update])|
|Net worth||US$500 million (2016)|
|Spouse(s)||Roxy Maxine McNeely (1977–1980, div.)|
Michelle Sixta (1983–1990, div.)
Marta Fitzgerald (1994–2004, div.)
Kathryn Rogers (2010–)
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (LIM-baw; born January 12, 1951) is an American radio talk show host and conservative political commentator. He currently resides in Palm Beach, Florida, where he broadcasts The Rush Limbaugh Show. According to December 2015 estimates by Talkers Magazine, Rush Limbaugh has a cume (cumulative weekly audience) of around 13.25 million unique listeners (listening for at least five minutes), making his show the most listened-totalk-radio program in the US.
Since he was 16, Limbaugh has worked a series of disc jockey jobs. His talk show began in 1984 at Sacramento, California radio station KFBK, featuring his ongoing format of political commentary and listener calls. In 1988, Limbaugh began broadcasting his show nationally from radio station WABC in New York City, and the show's flagship station became WOR in 2014.
In the 1990s, Limbaugh's books The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993) made The New York Times Best Seller list. In his books and on his show, Limbaugh frequently criticizes what he regards as liberal policies and politicians, as well as what he perceives as a pervasive liberal bias in major U.S. media. Limbaugh is among the highest-paid people in U.S. media, signing a contract in 2008 for $400 million through 2016. In 2017, Forbes listed his earnings at $84 million for the previous 12 months, and ranked him the 11th highest-earning celebrity in the world. His most recent contract, signed on July 31, 2016, will take his radio program to 2020, its 32nd year.
See also: Limbaugh family
Limbaugh was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the son of Mildred Carolyn "Millie" (née Armstrong) and Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Jr. His father was a lawyer and a U.S. fighter pilot who served in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. His mother was a native of Searcy, Arkansas. The name "Rush" was originally chosen for his grandfather to honor the maiden name of family member Edna Rush.
Limbaugh is of part German ancestry. His family has many lawyers, including his grandfather, father and brother David. His uncle, Stephen N. Limbaugh, Sr. is a federal judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. His cousin, Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., is currently a judge in the same court, appointed by George W. Bush. Rush Limbaugh, Sr., Limbaugh's grandfather, was a Missouri prosecutor, judge, special commissioner, member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 1930 until 1932, and longtime president of the Missouri Historical Society. The Federal Courthouse in Cape Girardeau is named for Limbaugh's grandfather Rush.
Limbaugh began his career in radio as a teenager in 1967 in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, using the name Rusty Sharpe. Limbaugh graduated from Cape Girardeau, Missouri Central High School in 1969. He played football. Because of his parents' desire to see him attend college, he enrolled in Southeast Missouri State University but left the school after two semesters and one summer. According to his mother, "he flunked everything," and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."
Limbaugh's biographer states that a large part of his life has been dedicated to gaining his father's respect and approval.
After dropping out of college, Limbaugh moved to McKeesport, Pennsylvania. In 1972, he became a Top 40 music disc jockey on WIXZ, a small AM radio station that reached much of the Pittsburgh area. He started with an afternoon show and later did mornings, broadcasting under the name Jeff Christie. Limbaugh moved to Pittsburgh station KQV in 1973 as the evening disc jockey, succeeding Jim Quinn. He was fired in late 1974, when the station was sold to Taft Broadcasting. Limbaugh was reportedly told by management that he would never make it as on-air talent, and should consider going into sales. Unable to find another job in local radio, Limbaugh moved back home to Cape Girardeau. He became a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers from his time in the region.
For the rest of the decade Limbaugh took jobs at several radio stations, working in music radio, before settling in Kansas City. In 1979, he left radio and accepted a position as director of promotions with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. There he developed a close friendship with then-Royals star third baseman and future Hall of FamerGeorge Brett; the two remain close friends.
In 1984, Limbaugh returned to radio as a talk show host at KFBK in Sacramento, where he replaced Morton Downey, Jr. The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine—which had required that stations provide free air time for responses to any controversial opinions that were broadcast—by the FCC in 1987 meant stations could broadcast editorial commentary without having to present opposing views. Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 ... and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination."
On August 1, 1988, after achieving success in Sacramento and drawing the attention of former ABC Radio President Edward McLaughlin, Limbaugh moved to New York City and began his national radio show. He 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-formatted WABC (AM), and this remained his flagship station for many years, even after Limbaugh moved to West Palm Beach, Fla., from where he continues to broadcast his show. Limbaugh's show moved on Jan. 1, 2014 to WABC's cross-town rival WOR (AM), its current New York outlet.
In December 1990, journalist Lewis Grossberger wrote in The New York Times 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 rising popularity coincided with the Persian Gulf War, and his support for the war effort and his relentless ridicule of peace activists. The program gained more popularity and was moved to stations with larger audiences, eventually being broadcast on over 650 radio stations nationwide.
In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States. Limbaugh satirized the policies of Clinton and First LadyHillary Clinton, as well as those of the Democratic Party. When the Republican Partywon control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections, the freshman Republican class awarded Limbaugh an honorary membership in their caucus. This event confirmed him as an influential figure on the national political scene.
Limbaugh had publicized personal difficulties in the 2000s. In late 2001, he acknowledged that he had gone almost completely deaf, although he continued his show. He was able to regain much of his hearing with the help of a cochlear implant in 2001.
In 2003, Limbaugh had a brief stint as a pro football commentator with ESPN. He resigned a few weeks into the 2003 NFL season after making comments about the press coverage for quarterbackDonovan McNabb that caused controversy and accusations of racism on the part of Limbaugh. His comment about McNabb was: "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. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team." A sportswriter construed the comment as racist against himself and other sportswriters. Another sports analyst wrote Limbaugh's viewpoint was shared by "many football fans and analysts" and "it is ... absurd to say that the sports media haven't overrated Donovan McNabb because he's black."
In 2003, Limbaugh stated that he was addicted to pain medication, and sought treatment. In April 2006, Limbaugh turned himself in to authorities, on a warrant issued by the state attorney's office, and was arrested "on a single charge of prescription fraud." His record was later expunged.
In 2013, news reports indicated that Cumulus Media, some of whose stations carried Limbaugh's program in certain major markets, including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C. and Detroit, was considering dropping his show when its contract with Limbaugh expired at the end of that year, reportedly because the company believed that its advertising revenues had been hurt by listener reaction to controversial Limbaugh comments. Limbaugh himself said that the reports were overblown and that it was a matter of routine dollars-and-cents negotiations between Cumulus and his network syndication partner, Premiere Networks, a unit of Clear Channel Communications. Ultimately, the parties reached agreement on a new contract, with Limbaugh's show moving from its long-time flagship outlet in New York, the Cumulus-owned WABC, to the latter's cross-town rival, the Clear Channel-owned WOR, starting Jan. 1, 2014, but remaining on the Cumulus-owned stations it was being carried on in other markets.
The Rush Limbaugh Show
Main article: The Rush Limbaugh Show
Limbaugh's radio show airs for three hours each weekday beginning at noon Eastern Standard Time on both AM and FM radio. The program is also broadcast worldwide on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Radio broadcasting shifted from AM to FM in the late 1970s because of the opportunity to broadcast music in stereo with better 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 AM radio. The show became so popular in the 1990s, even some FM stations picked it up. In March 2006, WBAL in Baltimore became the first major market radio station in the country to drop Limbaugh's nationally syndicated radio program. In 2007, Talkers magazine again named him No. 1 in its "Heavy Hundred" most important talk show hosts.
Limbaugh frequently mentions the EIB (Excellence In Broadcasting) Network, trademarked in 1990. In the beginning, 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. In 2007, Limbaugh earned $33 million. A November 2008 poll by Zogby International found that Rush Limbaugh was the most trusted news personality in the nation, garnering 12.5 percent of poll responses.
Limbaugh signed a $400 million, eight-year contract in 2008 with what was then Clear Channel Communications, making him the highest-paid broadcaster on terrestrial radio. On August 2, 2016, Limbaugh signed a four-year extension of the 2008 contract. At the announcement of the extension, Premiere Radio Networks and iHeartMedia announced that his show experienced audience growth with 18% growth in adults 25–54, 27% growth with 25–54 women, and ad revenue growth of 20% year over year.
Limbaugh had a syndicated half-hour television show from 1992 through 1996, produced by Roger Ailes. The show discussed many of the topics on his radio show, and was taped in front of an audience. Rush Limbaugh says he loves doing his radio show, but not a TV show.
Other media appearances
Limbaugh's first television hosting experience came March 30, 1990, as a guest host on Pat Sajak's CBS late-night talk show, The Pat Sajak Show.ACT UP activists in the audienceheckled Limbaugh repeatedly; ultimately the entire studio audience was cleared. In 2001, Sajak said the incident was "legendary around CBS".
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 Drew Carey Show.
In 2007, Limbaugh 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 was fellow conservative pundit Ann Coulter. That year, he also made a cameo in the Family Guy episode "Blue Harvest," a parody of Star Wars in which Limbaugh can be heard on the radio claiming that the "liberal galactic media" were lying about climate change on the planet Hoth, and that Lando Calrissian's administrative position on Cloud City was a result of affirmative action. More recent Family Guy appearances have happened in the 2010 episode "Excellence in Broadcasting," and 2011's "Episode VI: It's a Trap!," a parody of Return of the Jedi.
Influence and legacy
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.
On January 30, 2010, Limbaugh was a judge for the 2010 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. In early 2011, Limbaugh was the subject of the third season of Golf Channel's The Haney Project, in which instructor Hank Haney coached him in eight episodes.
Awards and recognition
In 1992, Ronald Reagan sent Limbaugh a letter in which he thanked him "for all you're doing to promote Republican and conservative principles ... [and] you have become the Number One voice for conservatism in our Country."
In 1994, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives made Limbaugh an honorary member.
Limbaugh was awarded the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year in 2014 (given by the National Association of Broadcasters). He has won the award four times previously (in 1992, 1995, 2000, and 2005). He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993. He was later inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2002, Talkers Magazine ranked him as the greatest radio talk show host of all time. Limbaugh is the highest-paid syndicated radio host.
On March 29, 2007, Limbaugh was awarded the inaugural William F. Buckley, Jr. Award for Media Excellence, by the Media Research Center, a conservative media analysis group.
On January 5, 2008, the conservative magazine Human Events announced Limbaugh as their 2007 Man of the Year.
On December 1, 2008, TV Guide reported that Limbaugh was selected as one of America's top ten most fascinating people of 2008 for a Barbara WaltersABC special that aired on December 4, 2008.
On February 28, 2009, following his self-described "first address to the nation" lasting 90 minutes, carried live on CNN and Fox News and recorded for C-SPAN, Limbaugh received CPAC's "Defender of the Constitution Award", a document originally signed by Benjamin Franklin, given to someone "who has stood up for the First Amendment ... Rush Limbaugh is for America, exactly what Benjamin Franklin did for the Founding Fathers ... the only way we will be successful is if we listen to Rush Limbaugh."
Zev Chafets, whose book Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One was published May 25, 2010, wrote after the first primaries of the 2010 U.S. election season that Limbaugh was "the brains and the spirit behind" the Republican Party's "resurgence" in the wake of the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. In his May 20, 2010, New York Times op-ed column, Chafets pointed among others to Sen.Arlen Specter's defeat, after being labeled by Limbaugh "Republican in Name Only," and to Sarah Palin, whose "biggest current applause line—Republicans are not just the party of no, but the party of hell no—came courtesy of Mr. Limbaugh." More generally, Chafets wrote, Limbaugh has argued the party-of-no Ronald Reagan conservative course for the Republicans vigorously, notably since six weeks after the Obama inauguration, and has been fundamental to, and encouraging to, the more prominently noted Tea Party movement.
Rush Limbaugh was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians on May 14, 2012. A bronze bust of Limbaugh is now on display in the Missouri State Capitol building in Jefferson City. It is the only such bust with its own security camera to discourage vandalism.
The Children's Book Council named Limbaugh their 2014 Author of the Year for his book Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans.
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. The text of the first book was taped by Limbaugh, and transcribed and edited by Wall Street Journal Journal writer John Fund. In the second book, Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily is named as his collaborator.
In 2013, Limbaugh authored a children's book titled Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time-Travel with Exceptional Americans. The book was released on October 29, 2013. It won Limbaugh the Author of the Year Award at the Children's Choice Book Awards in 2014.
In 2014, Limbaugh authored his second children's book titled Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Time-Travel with Exceptional Americans. For his new series, Limbaugh was selected as an author-of-the year finalist for the annual Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards.
In late 2014, Limbaugh authored his third children's book titled Rush Revere and the American Revolution. Limbaugh and his wife, Kathryn, dedicated the third book to the U.S. military and their families.
In his first New York Times best seller, Limbaugh describes himself as conservative, and is critical of broadcasters in many media outlets for claiming to be objective. He has criticized political centrists, independents, and moderate conservatives, claiming they are responsible for Democrat Barack Obama's victory over Republican John McCain in the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election and inviting them to leave the Republican party. He calls for the adoption of core conservative philosophies in order to ensure the survival of the Republican party.
James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times quoted Limbaugh as saying after the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States that the Democrats will "take your 401(k), put it in the Social Security Trust Fund."
Limbaugh considers Roe v. Wade as "bad constitutional law" and supports overturning it, leaving the decision to the states.
Limbaugh has been noted for making controversial race-related statements with regard to African-Americans. He once opined that all newspaper composite pictures of wanted criminals resembled Jesse Jackson, and another time that "the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons." While employed as what he describes as an "insult-radio" DJ, he used a derogatory racial stereotype to characterize a black caller he could not understand, telling the caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back." In March 2010, Limbaugh used the similarity of recently resigned Rep. Eric Massa's surname to the slavery-era African-American pronunciation of "master" to make a pun on the possibility that Gov. David Paterson, New York's first African-American governor, would pick Massa's replacement: "Let's assume you're right [caller]. So, David Paterson will become the massa who gets to appoint whoever gets to take Massa's place. So, for the first time in his life, Paterson's gonna be a massa. Interesting, interesting."
Limbaugh has asserted that African-Americans, in contrast with other minority groups, are "left behind" socially because they have been systematically trained from a young age to hate the United States because of the welfare state.
Limbaugh supports capital punishment, saying "the only thing cruel about the death penalty is last-minute stays."
Dismissal of consent in sexual relations
Limbaugh dismisses the concept of consent in sexual relations. He views consent as "the magic key to the left."
Limbaugh has been an outspoken critic of what he sees as leniency towards criminal drug use in America. On his television show on October 5, 1995, Limbaugh stated, "too many whites are getting away with drug use" and illegal drug trafficking. Limbaugh proposed that the racial disparity in drug enforcement could be fixed if authorities increased detection efforts, conviction rates, and jail time for whites involved in illegal drugs.
Limbaugh is critical of environmentalism and climate science. He has disputed claims of anthropogenic global warming, and the relationship between CFCs and depletion of the ozone layer, saying the scientific evidence does not support them. Limbaugh has argued against the scientific consensus on climate change saying it is "just a bunch of scientists organized around a political proposition." Limbaugh has used the term "environmentalist wacko" when referring 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 has written that "there are more acres of forestland in America today than when Columbus discovered the continent in 1492," a claim that is disputed by the United States Forest Service and the American Forestry Association, which state that the precolonial forests have been reduced by about 24 percent or nearly 300 million acres.
Limbaugh is 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 about two dozen feminists "to whom the most important thing in life is ensuring that as many abortions as possible occur." He also used the term referring to the half-million large 2017 Women's March as the "Deranged Feminazi March". He credited his friend Tom Hazlett, a professor of law and economics at George Mason University, with coining the term.
Iraq prisoner abuse
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."
On January 16, 2009, Limbaugh commented on the (then-upcoming) Obama presidency, "I hope he fails." Limbaugh later said that he wants to see Obama's policies fail, not the man himself. Speaking of Obama, Limbaugh said, "He's my president, he's a human being, and his ideas and policies are what count for me."
Use of entertainment props
Limbaugh utilizes props to introduce his monologues on various topics. On his radio show, news about the homeless has often been preceded with the Clarence "Frogman" Henry song "Ain't Got No Home." For a time, Dionne Warwick's song "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" preceded reports about people with AIDS. These later became "condom updates" preceded by Fifth Dimension's song, "Up, Up and Away". For two weeks in 1989, on his Sacramento radio show, Limbaugh performed "caller abortions" where he would end a call suddenly to the sounds of a vacuum cleaner and a scream. He would then deny that he had "hung up" on the caller, which he had promised not to do. Limbaugh claims that he used this gag to illustrate "the tragedy of abortion" as well as to highlight the question of whether abortion constitutes murder. During the Clinton administration, while filming his television program, Limbaugh referred to media coverage of Socks, the Clintons' cat. He then stated, "But did you know there is also a White House dog?" and a picture of Chelsea Clinton
Rush Limbaugh launched his phenomenally successful radio broadcast into national syndication on August 1 1988 with 56 radio stations. Twenty years later it is heard on nearly 600 stations by up to 20 million people each week and is the highest-rated national radio talk show in America. Known as the media pundit who reshaped the political landscape with his entertaining and informative brand of conservatism Mr. Limbaugh is also widely credited with resuscitating AM radio by many industry experts. In addition to his radio program Mr. Limbaugh hosts “The Rush Limbaugh Morning Update” a 90-second commentary which debuted in March 1992 and airs Monday through Friday. The Rush Limbaugh Show and “The Rush Limbaugh Morning Update” are produced and distributed by Premiere Radio Networks. With his diverse media background Mr. Limbaugh is also the author of The Limbaugh Letter the most widely read political newsletter in the country as well as two best-selling books The Way Things Ought to Be and See I Told You So which have sold more than 8.9 million copies. The sales of See I Told You So set an American publishing record. In 2000 Mr. Limbaugh tackled the Internet expanding his media dominance with the launch of RushLimbaugh.com. Employing cutting edge technology it is one of the most popular radio broadcasting websites. It offers subscribers the opportunity to experience his show via video and audio podcasting as well as live streaming audio.