One of America's most well-known conservative radio hosts, Rush Limbaugh, has died at the age of 70 after a battle with lung cancer. Limbaugh was known for his staunch conservative views and massive reach across the airwaves - his show attracted a cumulative weekly audience of 15.5 million listeners.
Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020 by former President Donald Trump, of whom he was an avid supporter.
In one of his only media appearances since leaving office, Trump paid tribute to Limbaugh following his death, calling him a "legend".
"He was with me right from the beginning," he told Fox News. "And he liked what I said and he agreed with what I said. And he was just a great gentleman. Great man."
Prominent evangelist Franklin Graham also paid tribute to Limbaugh on Twitter. "My heartfelt condolences and prayers for the family of Rush Limbaugh, who passed away today after a battle with lung cancer,” he wrote. “He was a conservative voice of reason for so many years and will be greatly missed."
After becoming ill with cancer, Limbaugh talked openly about his faith. "God is a profound factor; Jesus Christ a profound factor. I have a personal relationship," he told Fox News. "I’ve not talked about it much publicly because I don’t proselytize these things."
"I’m just trying to give thanks every day for all of the blessings,” Limbaugh continued. “I have had a blessed life. I have had so many great friends...and still do...there’s nothing negative for me. There’s nothing I have deep regrets about because I’ve been so blessed.”
Limbaugh was also involved in a number of controversies during his broadcasting career. In 2006, he suggested that actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, exaggerated the effects of his illness while appearing in a political TV advertisement advocating for the funding of stem cell research.
He also once questioned the US military's offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) guerilla group in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the assumption that they were Christians fighting against Islamic influences in the region. "They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them," he said at the time.
After being informed of the accusations levelled against the LRA's leader, Joseph Kony - which included crimes against humanity and the mass abduction of children for use in combat - Limbaugh said he would research the group.
More recently, Limbaugh had suggested that the Covid-19 virus was equivalent to the "common cold" and said the pandemic had been "weaponised" in order to bring down President Donald Trump.
Limbaugh is survived by his wife, Kathryn, who called him a "brilliant gentle giant and radio pioneer".
"Our entire family is so thankful to everyone who prayed and cared for Rush, especially the audience he adored."