02/21/2005 at 01:00 AM EST
It will probably never make CNN's crawl, but it's been headline news in the hallways: CNN Live Today cohost Daryn Kagan's romance with conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh is getting serious. How serious? Well, for starters, Kagan took Limbaugh to California over Thanksgiving to meet her family. A few weeks later, at the holiday party that the 42-year-old anchor hosts annually at her home in Atlanta, Kagan introduced Limbaugh, 54—whose divorce from his third wife, Marta, 45, became final Dec. 21—to friends and colleagues as the man in her life. "She's very serious about him," says a coworker at CNN's Atlanta headquarters. "She's introducing him as 'the one.' "
The unlikely pairing caught CNN's newshounds flat-footed. "This isn't FOX News, after all," says the colleague. As for Limbaugh, though he relishes lambasting Kagan's employer as the liberal "Clinton News Network," he has had no reservations about squiring one of its leading ladies around town since the two met at a dinner last year. Alongside Kagan, "Rush seemed happier and more relaxed than I've seen him in a while," says Sal Scognamillo, who has served the two at his New York City restaurant Patsy's. "They seem to really enjoy each other's company."
Kagan is not the only good news of late for Limbaugh, who in 2003 entered rehab for an addiction to painkillers and is still under criminal investigation for allegedly doctor shop-ping in pursuit of overlapping prescriptions. In November an appellate court asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether authorities violated Limbaugh's civil rights when they seized his medical records.
Kagan, who joined CNN in 1994 after a TV stint in Phoenix, was recently on duty when a ruling in Limbaugh's case was announced. She kicked the story to another anchor—as she will with any future news about her partisan pal, says a CNN spokesman. As for the pair's hand-holding at a recent White House Christmas party, CNN has no stated policy.