Fact Check

Did Rush Limbaugh Say Presidential Medal Was Tarnished by Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

Published Feb. 10, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Radio personality Rush Limbaugh reacts as First Lady Melania Trump gives him the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC.  President Trump delivers his third State of the Union to the nation the night before the U.S. Senate is set to vote in his impeachment trial.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Image Via Mario Tama/Getty Images
In February 2020, Rush Limbaugh said receiving the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom was "less of an honor" after learning it had previously been given to Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou.

On Feb. 5, 2020, The Onion published an article positing that the conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had said his receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom had been tarnished after he discovered that the honor had previously been bestowed upon the civil rights icon Rosa Parks and the poet Maya Angelou.

"Rush Limbaugh Admits Presidential Medal of Freedom Less of an Honor Knowing That Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou Also Received It."

Saying his initial enthusiasm had faded after learning about the award’s history, conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh conceded Wednesday that receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom was less of an honor knowing it had been bestowed upon Rosa Parks and Maya Angelou, too.

“While I understand this medal represents the highest civilian honor possible, I was a bit disconcerted to discover this morning that I share this distinction with both a civil rights icon and a poet who gave a voice to black Americans,” said Limbaugh, who explained that he hopes people don’t doubt his integrity as he joins the ranks of the award’s previous recipients, especially Cicely Tyson, Ralph Ellison, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Stevie Wonder, and Willie Mays.

“I almost sent it back. But instead I have decided to keep my Medal of Freedom and let it stand as a testament to my willingness to tolerate others. I hope my acceptance of it will go some way toward reclaiming this honor from the Martin Luther Kings and Nelson Mandelas of the world.”

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

"The First Amendment protects satire as a form of free speech and expression. The Onion uses invented names in all of its stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental."

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


The Onion.  "Rush Limbaugh Admits Presidential Medal of Freedom Less of an Honor Knowing That Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou Also Received It."     5 February 2020.

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