Rush Limbaugh given presidential medal of freedom during State of the Union

  • Conservative ‘shock jock’ revealed he has cancer on Monday
  • President tells journalists in lunch before State of the Union

Donald Trump on Tuesday awarded the controversial conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh the presidential medal of freedom in the middle of his State of the Union speech, a day after the “shock jock” announced he has advanced lung cancer.

The award is the highest civilian honor bestowed by a US president.

The first lady, Melania Trump, hung the medal around Limbaugh’s neck after Trump announced the award in the middle of address. A visibly moved Limbaugh clasped his hands together and then punched his chest in a salute to the president.

The radio host has been an outspoken supporter of Trump on the air waves and the two have interacted many times, recently dining together at the president’s Florida golf club.

Limbaugh revealed on Monday that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, making the announcement during his nationally syndicated radio show.

Limbaugh, 69, added that although his intention is to continue working “as competently and as expertly as [he does] each and every day”, he will begin undergoing treatment immediately, taking him off-air for the next couple of days. He said he was aiming to be back by Thursday, calling the program “the source of [his] greatest satisfaction”.

“Every day I’m not here, I’ll be missing you and thinking about you,” he said. In the segment, Limbaugh said doctors discovered the issue after he complained of shortness of breath.

Limbaugh is widely considered one of the most high-profile conservative media personalities in the country. The rightwing talkshow host began his radio program 31 years ago and had recently signed a new long-term contract.

He has used his platform to campaign on a variety of conservative issues and to attack liberals, often causing controversy with his extreme rightwing views and comments on abortion, feminism and race. His huge and passionate conservative listenership has given him immense political clout, especially with Republican politicians.

Guardian staff and agencies

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