Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York accused President Donald Trump of cheapening the Presidential Medal of Freedom by awarding it to talk radio show icon Rush Limbaugh during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
Limbaugh announced on his nationally syndicated program Monday that he has advanced-stage lung cancer.
Ocasio-Cortez — who boycotted the State of the Union — described Limbaugh as a “virulent racist” in an Instagram Live video after Trump’s speech.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an extraordinarily sacred award,” the freshman congresswoman said. “We’re talking about putting someone on the same level as Rosa Parks, you know, for example, in terms of their contributions to American progress.”
“Rush Limbaugh is a virulent racist, but even just on top of that, to do it in the middle of a State of the Union and not even dignify it with its own ceremony as it has — there’s all sorts of norms that are being violated, not just for people’s humanity, but also it truly just cheapens the value of it,” Ocasio-Cortez added.
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez viciously *mocks* Rush Limbaugh, who has stage 4 lung cancer, calls his reaction to being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom “disingenuous”
Says that he, while having cancer, was a “joke,” needed an “Opera moment,” and was “nauseating” pic.twitter.com/VrsIj1Cmlj
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 5, 2020
She found it a “joke” that Limbaugh acted surprised when Trump announced the talk radio legend would be receiving the medal during the speech.
USA Today reported that during a lunch with reporters on Tuesday, the president said he planned to bestow the honor on Limbaugh as early as next week, so it is not clear Limbaugh knew he was going to receive the award during the State of the Union.
It “was so disingenuous and to do that and to give it to Rush Limbaugh when there were plenty of people in that audience that have contributed positively to the fabric of American society much more, frankly, than he has,” Ocasio-Cortez argued.
“You know, but it’s red meat to his base,” she said.
“Trump knows what he’s doing. And he wants to assert that Rush Limbaugh is somehow on the same level as Rosa Parks and it’s truly nauseating, and this is one of the many reasons why I did not go.”
During his State of the Union address, Trump praised Limbaugh, who was seated in the House gallery next to first lady Melania Trump.
“Here tonight is a special man, beloved by millions of Americans, who just received a stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis,” Trump said. “This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”
“Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” Trump said.
At that point, Limbaugh received a standing ovation.
“Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Trump said. “I will now ask the first lady of the United States to present you with the honor.”
The first lady then placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck.
The 69-year-old launched his nationally syndicated conservative radio program in August 1988.
Fox News reported Limbaugh is “a five-time winner of the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for ‘Excellence in Syndicated and Network Broadcasting,’ a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and a member of the Radio Hall of Fame and National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.”
“He also was named one of Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People in 2008 and one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009,” according to Fox.
Last August, Limbaugh listed some of the charities his supporters enabled him to contribute to over his 30-plus years on the air.
They included $3 million to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and over $5 million to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to over a dozen people so far, including humanitarian and businessman Roger Penske, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, New York Yankees legend Mariano Rivera, golf icon Tiger Woods, economist Art Laffer, former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, singer Elvis Presley and former Yankees home run slugger George Herman “Babe” Ruth.
Some of the recipients under former President Barack Obama included Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, basketball icon Michael Jordan, actor Robert De Niro, actor Tom Hanks, singer Diana Ross, baseball broadcaster Vin Scully and singer Bruce Springsteen.