The View's Whoopi Goldberg challenges Meghan McCain to explain why Rush Limbaugh deserves Medal of Freedom
Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain (ABC)

"The View" host Whoopi Goldberg to justify why President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh.

The conservative broadcaster, who announced this week he's battling advanced lung cancer, was awarded the medal at the State of the Union address -- and Goldberg admitted she didn't understand.

"You know, I am very sorry that Rush is ill, because you never want to wish bad stuff on people," Goldberg said. "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 pointed out that the medal had previously been awarded to Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks, and guest host Alex Baldwin joked that he'd run for president so he could give the award to comedian Louis C.K.

"I didn't understand," Goldberg said. "You've got a Tuskegee airman sitting there. 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 Elijah Cummings' wife as a thank you for all of his service."

McCain defended the president's decision in political terms.

"He's playing to his base and Rush Limbaugh -- I used to work in radio and I actually worked underneath, I was behind Sean Hannity on the radio show I hosted," McCain said. "Rush was first. He has 30 million listeners a day. To put it in perspective, this show averages around 3 (million). The amount of influence he has, especially with conservatives."

Goldberg asked her to explain why that was deserving of one of the highest civilian awards in the U.S., but she wasn't impressed by McCain's answer.

"He changed the paradigm of radio," McCain said.

Goldberg winced in apparent irritation, and Behar pointed out some of the most notoriously racist remarks Limbaugh has made on air.

"Rush Limbaugh spent a lot of Obama's tenure singing -- what did he call it? -- 'Barack the Magic Negro,'" Behar said. "He's been so racist and misogynistic over the years, to give him -- who's next? Roger Stone? How about giving it to him or Steve Bannon."

Co-host Sunny Hostin explained why the move was so insulting 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 said. "Rush Limbaugh was a longtime birther during the Obama administration."

"And Melania, the other birther, put the (medal) on him," Behar added.