Conservative grief poured out Wednesday over the death of talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh, though the partisan world he helped define also produced some grim chortling among liberals who despised him.
“It’s a tremendously sad day, we’ve lost a voice like no other,” said Mark Levin, a conservative author and radio host who trod on the path blazed by Mr. Limbaugh.
Mr. Limbaugh, 70, died of lung cancer Wednesday after being diagnosed with the disease last year. The illness forced him into part-time status on the air in recent months.
It was his decades-long work proselytizing the conservative message that most on the right chose to remember.
“Rush changed the conversation to speak up for the forgotten and challenge the establishment,” Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, said in a statement. “He lived the First Amendment and told hard truths that made the elite uncomfortable.”
Conservatives at Americans for Limited Government echoed those thoughts.
“Rush Limbaugh was a great American who incredibly battled through cancer to continue fighting for liberty and limited government to his last breath,” the group said in a statement. “Rush was an inspiration to us all and an American institution. He will be sorely missed by those left behind, and it is our job now to try to fill the huge void that he has left.”
A more mixed reaction was found on social media, where at one point Wednesday an announcement of Mr. Limbaugh’s death trended on Twitter with “good riddance” and “rot in hell.”
“The bigoted king of talk radio,” the Huffington Post declared in its obituary.
The left-wing news site Now This ripped Mr. Limbaugh’s work.
“During his decades-long media career, he used his platform to promote racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and conspiracy theories,” it tweeted.
Hollywood figures were quick to savage Mr. Limbaugh.
“If I had to say something positive I guess I’m glad Rush Limbaugh lived long enough to get cancer and die,” actor Paul F. Tompkins told his 1.2 million followers.
Established conservatives outlets such as the Media Research Center, which charts the news’ liberal slant, called Mr. Limbaugh “the titan of conservative media.” Those who long idolized Mr. Limbaugh for his willingness to offend the monitors of politically correct speech incorporated that spirit in their encomiums.
“Rush Limbaugh, undisputed king of talk radio. Original snowflake melter,” conservative podcaster Mark Dice tweeted. “Triggering feminazis before it was cool.”
“Feminazis” was one of Mr. Limbaugh’s coined terms for what he considered overly militant feminists. The phrase infuriated or amused depending upon partisan leanings.
Former President Donald Trump called Fox News, and his remarks were the first offered since leaving the White House on Jan. 20.
“He was a legend, and there aren’t too many legends around,” Mr. Trump said. “He was something special.”
Mr. Limbaugh was an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s then-longshot bid for the presidency and at that time the two had never met, Mr. Trump said.
“He was with me right from the beginning,” Mr. Trump recalled. “He was one of the people who said we were going to win. He had an incredible instinct for politics and an instinct for life.”
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