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Rush Limbaugh told millions of listeners Monday that he has advanced lung cancer. The conservative talk radio king shared the news at the end of his program, pointing out he isn’t one to talk about himself after more than 30 years on the radio sharing his viewpoints. He thought about keeping it private, but didn’t want it to leak. 

“I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down,” Limbaugh said. “The upshot is I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.” 

That’s one way to spin it. 

Rush has been the staple of WBAP conservative AM radio in Dallas for decades. He first blazed on to the scene in New York City in the late ’80s. Today, his radio empire is considered one of highest rated talk shows, especially among conservatives. The media — including Fox News, CNN and The Washington Post — put his listener numbers somewhere between 14 million and 30 million. And those numbers were before the rise of Trump. He’s been the leading talk radio show host for two decades, according to CNN, and a controversial figure in many liberal circles. He’s even garnered a page on Snopes.com, a fact-checking website, that fact checked a list of racist quotes attributed to him. Several of them didn’t check out. (They couldn’t find direct sources.) He did say on his program in late Jan. 2007, “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There I said it.” 

In July, he stirred up some on the left and a few news commentators when he attacked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, accusing her of lying about the water fountains on top of toilets found at the migrant detention centers on the border. “Now I’ve seen the inside of these facilities,” she wrote in a July tweet. “It’s not just the kids. It’s everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members Congress. …” 

Limbaugh followed with, “But my friends, based on what we’re told about the circumstances where these people are fleeing, maybe toilet water is a step up for some of them, based on what the left is telling us their homelands are like.” 

The water fountain toilets are hybrid toilet/drinking fountains, which the New York Rep. would point out in later tweet. 

Limbaugh is also known for his charity work. His “Stand Up for Betsy Ross” t-shirt helped raise $2 million for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit named after a New York City firefighter who died on 9/11. The money helps pay off mortgages for the families of six fallen first responders who lost their lives on duty that day.  Limbaugh claimed the t-shirt was “one of the greatest T-shirts that’s ever been made, by the way, in terms of the fabric, our design is the Betsy Ross flag, it says under it ‘Stand Up for Betsy Ross’ because Nike and Colin Kaepernick decided to attack Betsy Ross and the flag and suggest that shoes with the flag on it should not be sold.”

Several outlets shared the news about Limbaugh’s advanced cancer Monday after his radio program. NPR, Fox News, CNN, dozens of outlets reported it. Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, a talk radio trade publication, said, “It’s shocking to the industry, and it should be shocking to the political establishment.”

It didn’t take long for Twitter users to respond with words of support. “Rush Limbaugh is a National Treasure who has made a difference on the airwaves of America for 30 years,” Vice President Mike Pence wrote. “Rush, Karen and I will be joining millions across the Country in praying for your swift recovery. God Bless You!”

Christian McPhate

Christian McPhate is the managing editor of Local Profile. He has been working as a journalist for more than a decade. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Dallas Morning News,...