CLASSLESS: Liberals on Social Media Cheer Following News of Rush Limbaugh’s Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Tragic news struck the conservative world today when right-wing talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh announced that he has been diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.

Immediately after the news went public, liberals on social media started making smug and heartless comments about Limbaugh’s unfortunate plight.

It wasn’t just random Twitter trolls who made comments celebrating Limbaugh’s cancer diagnosis. Popular left-wing Twitter influencers did so as well, and their posts were widely liked among their liberal followers.

Some liberals, however, did show some grace and wish Limbaugh the best in his recovery despite their political differences, even though some looked like canned messages sent around by leftist organizers:

Limbaugh has emerged as the king of conservative talk since launching his national talk radio show out of New York in 1988.

His meteoric rise was described in a 1991 Los Angeles Times profile:

Limbaugh first proved this in Sacramento in the mid-1980s, where he was a local hit with the same kind of show. In the spring of 1988, a syndicator discovered him, signed him to a partnership, moved him to Manhattan with a $250,000 annual base salary and launched the 54-station “Excellence in Broadcasting” network that August. They quickly added scores of small markets; then the bigger ones began to come aboard. Last year, Limbaugh made, by his estimate, well over $500,000 and says he’ll hit a million this year. He wallows in it. He flies first class to $15,000-a-pop concert appearances all over the country nearly every weekend, working his rap on adoring crowds of 2,000 to 7,000. He markets concert tapes and T-shirts. He sponsors Caribbean cruises for his most zealous fans. He has emceed an Oliver North benefit roast in Washington. When he took a vacation last summer, his on-air replacement was Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Garden Grove), an ideological twin.

While half of Limbaugh’s audience is over 50–the classic target audience of talk radio–he also draws a substantial number of people in their 30s and 40s who listen while commuting or at work. In Los Angeles, where Limbaugh is heard on all-talk KFI, he loses 2-to-1 in listenership to veteran Michael Jackson on KABC but beats Jackson by about 15% among listeners between 25 and 54. Some of these people listen for the politics. Some listen for the humor. Some listen despite themselves. It is not unusual for a caller to inform Limbaugh that he is a regular listener who disagrees with 90% of the host’s politics. “I think your shtick is better than Pee-wee Herman and Jimmy Swaggart,” a guy from Toledo told Limbaugh recently when he called in. “Only Pee-wee thinks he’s being funny, and Jimmy thinks he’s being serious. I haven’t figured out what you’re trying to do.”

Limbaugh laughed good-naturedly at that one. He maintains that he could not care less that a lot of people are still confused by the program’s cockeyed attitudes. While his conservative views, forged in a family of Republican attorneys in Cape Girardeau, Mo., are deeply held, he never planned on becoming a right-wing icon. His professional universe is show business. The fact that he has become a semi-authorized conservative spokesman–he’s the guy “Nightline” booked last November when it wanted someone to articulate citizen support of mobilization for war with Iraq–is merely a testament to how well Limbaugh packages what he preaches.

“Sixty, maybe 70% of my success is my (conservative) message; I never bargained for that,” he told a concert audience in Long Beach late last year. “I am on the radio for one reason: to attract the largest audience I can and hold it. I am not in a think tank.” Yet he swears he is sincere. He could never pose as a liberal for the sake of ratings, he says. Too much work. Liberals never have a nice day. “They don’t have fun. They’re worried about everything being wrong.”

The entire conservative movement is shaken up by the news of Limbaugh’s diagnosis, with many public figures offering their thoughts and prayers.