LOS ANGELES — Conservative radio host and Republican kingmaker Rush Limbaugh said he’s been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
Addressing listeners on his program Monday, Limbaugh said will take some days off for further medical tests and to determine treatment.
Limbaugh called himself the “mayor of Realville” in announcing his illness. He’d been experiencing shortness of breath that he initially thought might be heart-related but it turned out to be lung cancer.
“It’s shocking to the industry, and it should be shocking to the political establishment,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the trade industry publication for talk radio.
Limbaugh’s announcement come at a tumultuous political time, as the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial nears.
He started his first national radio show in 1988 from New York, later relocating to Palm Beach, Florida.
The hyper-partisan broadcaster has dominated talk radio with a raucous, liberal-bashing style that made him one of the most influential voices of American right-wing politics and inspired other conservative broadcasters including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.
“Rush you are in our prayers,” Beck tweeted. “We live in a time of modern miracles. Millions are praying you find one.”
On his show, Limbaugh said he intends to work as much as possible. He also said he had focused more “intensely” in the past two weeks on what he called his “deeply personal relationship” with God.
The media figure’s endorsement and friendship is a conservative political treasure. His idol, Ronald Reagan, wrote a letter that Limbaugh read on the air in December 1992 and which sealed his reputation among conservatives: “You’ve become the number one voice for conservatism in our country,” Reagan wrote.
Two years later, Limbaugh would be so widely credited as key to Republicans’ takeover of Congress for the first time in 40 years, he was deemed an honorary member of the new class.
Limbaugh has frequently been accused of hate-filled speech, including bigotry and blatant racism through his comments and sketches such as “Barack the Magic Negro,” a song featured on his show that said Obama “makes guilty whites feel good” and that the politician is “black, but not authentically.”
AP Media Writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.