In a surprise announcement, Trump lauded the right-wing radio host as a “winner” and the “greatest fighter” in bestowing him with the prestigious award. “The View” moderator Whoopi Goldberg wasn’t a fan of the decision.
“You know, I am very sorry that Rush is ill, because you never want to wish bad stuff on people,” Goldberg said of the broadcaster, who revealed his battle with advanced-stage lung cancer this week. “He has Stage IV cancer. But I’m sorry, I thought that the Medal of Freedom was supposed to go to people who actually did stuff.”
Co-host Joy Behar also weighed in, noting that Limbaugh, who has a history of making controversial and racist remarks on air, isn’t the typical Medal of Freedom honoree. The medal is one of the highest civilian honors typically given by the president and has been awarded to accomplished leaders and humanitarians including Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa.
“I didn’t understand,” Goldberg continued. “You’ve got a Tuskegee airman sitting there (at the SOTU). How about, if you’re going to give the Medal of Freedom to someone who actually has made difference in the country and done all kind of stuff, how about giving it to [Rep.] Elijah Cummings’ wife as a thank you for all of his service.”
Cummings, a revered Maryland congressman, died last year from complications of longstanding health issues.
Conservative co-host Meghan McCain jumped into the discussion to defend Trump’s decision to honor Limbaugh, 69, with the award.
“He’s playing to his base and Rush Limbaugh — I used to work in radio and I actually worked underneath, I was behind [pundit] Sean Hannity on the radio show I hosted,” McCain explained. “Rush was first. He has 30 million listeners a day.
“To put it in perspective, [The View] averages around 3 (million),” she added. The amount of influence he has, especially with conservatives.”
Goldberg pushed back and asked whether hosting a popular radio show was enough to receive such an award: “What has he done that merits the Medal of Freedom?”
“He changed the paradigm of radio,” McCain responded.
The debate didn’t end there, as Behar proceeded to highlight racist remarks previously made by Limbaugh, including his smearing of former POTUS Barack Obama as “Barack the Magic Negro.”
“He’s been so racist and misogynistic over the years, to give him — who’s next? Roger Stone?” Behar opined. “How about giving it to him, or Steve Bannon.”
For co-host Sunny Hostin, bestowing Limbaugh with such an honor was like a slap in the face to Black Americans.
“I don’t think it was lost on the Black community that he gave that honor to Rush Limbaugh during Black History Month, sitting next to a Tuskegee airman, on Rosa Parks Day,” Hostin argued, adding, “Rush Limbaugh was a longtime birther during the Obama administration. ”
Several critics have come out also against Trump’s choice to honor Limbaugh with the medal, including former vice president Joe Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, CNN’s Jim Acosta and more.
Viewers also shared their thoughts online after viewing the clip below.