There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether Rush Limbaugh "deserves" the Presidential Medal of Freedom and manufactured outrage over the State of the Union presentation of the medal to him by the First Lady.
Like it or not, Rush Limbaugh is a beloved American radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and former television show host. He is the host of "The Rush Limbaugh Show"… which is the most listened to radio show in the United States with a weekly audience of more than 14,000,000 people each day. In addition to his radio show, Limbaugh hosted a national television show from 1992 to 1996. He has written seven books; his first two, The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993), made The New York Times Best Seller list. Limbaugh was awarded the Marconi Radio Award for Syndicated Radio Personality of the Year by the National Association of Broadcasters five times – 1992, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2014 (given by the National Association of Broadcasters). He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2001, he inked a $285 million contract for eight years, which was renewed in 2008 for another eight years at $400 million. By 2017, Limbaugh was the second highest paid radio host in the United States, earning an annual salary of $84 million – second only to Howard Stern. Radio industry thought leader, Talkers Magazine, ranked him as the greatest radio talk show host of all time in 2002, and in 2017, he was the most-listened-to radio host in the United States. Limbaugh was awarded the inaugural William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence by the Media Research Center in 2007, Human Events 2007 Man of the Year, and Barbara Walters featured Limbaugh as one of the most fascinating people of the year in a special that aired on December 4, 2008.
On February 28, 2009, following his self-described "first address to the nation" lasting 90 minutes, carried live on CNN and Fox News and recorded for C-SPAN, Limbaugh received CPAC's "Defender of the Constitution Award", a document originally signed by Benjamin Franklin, given to someone "who has stood up for the First Amendment ... Rush Limbaugh is for America, exactly what Benjamin Franklin did for the Founding Fathers ... the only way we will be successful is if we listen to Rush Limbaugh." In his 2010 book, Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One, Ze'ev Chafets cited Limbaugh as, "the brains and the spirit behind" the Republican Party's resurgence in the 2010 midterm elections in the wake of the election of President Obama.
Limbaugh’s professional accomplishments and cultural contributions to the diversity of thought, his significant role as a thought leader, opinion maker, defender of the First Amendment, author, and his role in the preservation and resurgence of the radio show as a means of communication, are undeniably nationally and culturally significant. Limbaugh is most certainly deserving of this award.