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Opinion: The man who created President Donald Trump

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19%. 1 min read.

WASHINGTON - JUNE 23: Radio personality Rush Limbaugh interacts with the audience before the start of a panel discussion "'24' and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction, or Does It Matter?", June 23, 2006 in Washington, DC. Radio personality Rush Limbaugh moderated a discussion sponsored by the Heritage Foundation titled and included members of the cast from the television show "24". (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Today's Republican Party is Rush Limbaugh's legacy, writes historian Nicole Hemmer of the conservative icon who died Wednesday. Limbaugh's talk radio show was crucial to the right-wing media ecosystem not only because he was an ardent Trump supporter, but because, over the course of three decades, his show also laid the groundwork for Donald Trump's presidency, says Hemmer.

(CNN)When the news broke last October that Donald Trump had been diagnosed with Covid-19, legendary conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh immediately swooped in to help the campaign.

Though the resulting two-hour diatribe was not particularly effective radio, it highlighted just how important the radio host was to Trump's political career, even at that moment when both Limbaugh's show and Trump's presidency were nearing their end.

In swearing fealty to Limbaugh's popularity with conservative voters among their base, Republican leaders essentially transformed Limbaugh into the de facto leader of their party -- and turned conservative media into a powerful political institution that carried as much weight as the party itself.

But in elevating Limbaugh, Republicans also elevated a particular type of politics that would become the core of their party, one that looks awfully familiar after four years of Donald Trump.

That fear of crossing Limbaugh revealed a politics of loyalty that superseded both ideological commitments and the party's political fortunes -- something that has come to the fore in recent weeks as state Republican parties censure the conservative politicians who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

Limbaugh's reliance on insults, nicknames, racism and misogyny didn't just prefigure the rise of Donald Trump.

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