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Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh dies at 70

Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died Wednesday at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. For more than 30 years, he trumpeted his brand of conservatism with a take-no-prisoners style that won compliments and condemnation. Lisa Desjardins looks at his career.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And talk radio host Rush Limbaugh died today. For more than 30 years, he trumpeted a brand of conservatism that won him a huge audience and condemnation.

    Lisa Desjardins looks at his career.

  • Rush Limbaugh:

    My friends, my name is Rush Limbaugh.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    One of the most polarizing figures in American culture, Rush Limbaugh transformed talk radio and became a defining force in Republican politics.

    Born in Missouri, he started in radio in high school and dropped out of college to make it a career, one that became turbocharged in the 1980s, after the Reagan era ended the fairness doctrine, allowing broadcasters to air one-sided political views. "The Rush Limbaugh Show" launched in 1988.

    Limbaugh was a brash, unapologetic conservative, shaming Republicans he found wishy-washy and railing against the left, urging ideological warfare, including here against President Barack Obama.

  • Rush Limbaugh:

    We're talking about it remaining the country we were all born into and reared and grown into. And it's under assault. It's always under assault. But it's never been under assault like this from within before. And it's a serious, serious battle.

    (APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But critics heard a voice for white male power. Limbaugh pushed the racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was born outside the United States. And he hurled slurs at college student and birth control advocate Sandra Fluke.

  • Rush Limbaugh:

    That makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Limbaugh's focus on culture war issues like immigration helped pave the way for Donald Trump.

  • Donald Trump:

    He was a unique guy. And he was a — he became a friend of mine.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The former president called into FOX News today.

    In past months, Limbaugh amplified mister Trump's false claims of election fraud. Today, the former president stressed Limbaugh's support, including a call at the start of his campaign.

  • Donald Trump:

    When we came down the escalator, he liked my rather controversial speech. I made that speech that was a little on the controversial side. And he loved it. He was with me right from the beginning

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Limbaugh announced his lung cancer diagnosis last February, and, one day later, Mr. Trump awarded him with the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, during the State of the Union address.

  • Donald Trump:

    Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    His effect was on display, with Republicans standing and Democrats silent, some angry. Unusually, Limbaugh himself was speechless.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Rush Limbaugh was 70 years old.

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