'These rumors were hurtful to me': Natalie Morales champions 'courageous' Today staffer who has accused Matt Lauer of sexual misconduct and again denies she had an affair with the Today anchor
- Natalie Morales gave her support to Matt Lauer's sexual misconduct accuser
- In a statement on Access Hollywood, Morales said Lauer's alleged victim was courageous to come forward
- She also repeated her denial of rumors she and Lauer had an affair while she worked on Today
- Lauer was fired on Wednesday morning after allegations emerged
Natalie Morales has broken her silence on the news that Matt Lauer has been fired over allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Access Hollywood anchor - who has previously shot down rumors that she had an affair with Lauer - repeated that denial when reporting on the news.
'I woke up to the news like everyone this morning — just in shock', Morales said on Access Hollywood Live.
Angry: Natalie Morales made a statement on Lauer's sexual misconduct allegations today
Morales gave her support to Matt Lauer's accuser and used the statement to deny affair rumors
'The TODAY show, of course, has been my family for 16 years now and it is difficult. I think everyone is saying how difficult it is to process the news. I have personally dealt with rumors in the past for years that were hurtful to me, my family – they diminished my hard work.'
'I’ve addressed those rumors head-on in the past. That is not the story today. The story today is the courage of a colleague who did come forward, and when and if she wants to tell her story publicly, I’m sure she will. But it did take a lot of courage for her to come forward. It was no doubt a very painful decision.'
In 2016, Lauer was forced to publicly deny he was having an affair with his then co-host Morales, who joined the show in 2006 and became a co-anchor in 2011.
Rumors surrounded Morales' decision to leave the morning show for Access Hollywood with many suggesting it was to avoid awkward on-air encounters between the two former lovers.
'There’s an awkwardness between Matt and Natalie,' a NBC source told NBC. 'He protected her for a long time and now it seems like something has gone awry…'
Denials: Both Morales and Lauer were forced to deny having an affair in 2016
'Every aspect of this story is untrue, and it’s frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved,' Lauer told Page Six at the time.
He later said he had denied the claims to protect his family.
'When you feel your family is being threatened and hurt, you speak up. And then you put your head down and go back about your business,' he told the Mike Lupica podcast.
Morales also spoke out.
'There is absolutely no truth to this completely absurd story. It is damaging, hurtful and extremely sexist. I have proven myself in all aspects of my job as a news professional and journalist, and am adding to my role, taking on three jobs with ‘Access Hollywood Live’ and ‘Access Hollywood,’ in addition to ‘Today.’ This move was dictated by me and my desire to grow in my career. Any insinuations beyond that are uninformed,' she said.
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