Rush Limbaugh isn’t behind his famed golden microphone again Wednesday, one day after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump during the State of the Union address.
Limbaugh appeared overcome with emotion when First Lady Melania Trump awarded the conservative radio icon with the country’s highest civilian award, the first time that’s happened at a State of the Union speech. The 69-year-old had arrived at the U.S. Capitol in a wheelchair Tuesday evening ahead of the speech.
“I feel great. I feel good,” Limbaugh told Fox News reporter Chad Pergram.
Limbaugh, whose show is broadcast in Philadelphia on 1210 WPHT, shocked the political and media world when he announced to his audience Monday he had been diagnosed with “advanced lung cancer.” He said he first noticed something was wrong in mid-January, and was diagnosed Jan. 20.
While Limbaugh said he intends to continue hosting his popular talk show, he informed listeners that he would need to take time off to undergo treatment.
“My heart’s in great shape, ticking away fine, squeezing and pumping great,” Limbaugh said. “It was not that. It was a pulmonary problem involving malignancy. So I’m going to be gone the next couple days as we figure out the treatment course of action and have further testing done."
Filling in again as guest host on Wednesday will be Mark Steyn, who called the news of Limbaugh’s diagnosis “devastating.”
“Rush has been number one [on radio] for a third of the history of the entire medium. He’s basically invented that form,” Steyn said on Fox News Monday night. “I owe Rush everything."
Limbaugh said Monday that he hoped to return to the show Thursday, but his exact schedule moving forward remains unclear.
“As I said, I’m going to be here as often as I can,” Limbaugh told his listeners Monday. His show airs noon to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
While Limbaugh is viewed as a media pioneer who popularized national conservative talk radio, he is also a divisive figure with a history of making misogynistic and racially charged comments. Back in 2012, Limbaugh was forced to apologize after calling Georgetown student Sandra Fluke “a slut” and “prostitute” over her support of women’s access to birth control.
Limbaugh was also forced to resign from his short-lived job as an ESPN analyst on Sunday NFL Countdown in 2003, after claiming the media overrated former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb because they were “very desirous that a black quarterback do well.” The comments also helped sink his chances of purchasing the then-St. Louis Rams in 2009.