Former “TODAY” anchor Natalie Morales was among many of Matt Lauer’s former colleagues who woke up to the news that he was fired from NBC News.
Morales addressed viewers on “Access Hollywood” with co-host Kit Hoover on Wednesday after Lauer’s dismissal from “TODAY.” She read part of NBC News chairman Andy Lack’s statement for viewers before sharing her own feelings about the news.
“You know,” Morales said, “I saw the news and woke up to the news, like everyone, of course, just in shock. The ‘Today Show’ has been my family for 16 years now and it is difficult to process the news. I have personally dealt with rumors in the past that were hurtful to me, to my family. They diminished my hard work. I have addressed those rumors head on in the past. That is not the story today.”
“The story today is about the courage of the colleague that did come forward and when and if she wants to tell her story publicly, I am sure she will. It did take a lot of courage for her to come forward. It was no doubt a very painful decision,” she said.
Morales and Hoover promised to continue to report the news as more details come out in the hours and days to come.
“We are in a climate and a culture where women are finally not afraid as they once were about being able to speak up and being able to come forward and speak out about what is not appropriate,” Morales said.
Hoover then introduced the moment Savannah Guthrie held back tears as she and Hoda Kotb also promised “TODAY” viewers they were going to continue to report the news as they are a “still trying to process” what is going on.
Morales “sent them all hugs” as the package wrapped up. Like many others, Hoover questioned who may replace Lauer on the show and suggested that two female anchors may take the helm.
“Could be!” Morales said. “We will have to wait and see on that. I think it’s jumping ahead of everything right now. I think right now the stories are still coming out.”
Morales was the victim of rumors in 2012 when the National Enquirer alleged that she and Lauer had a behind the scenes affair and questioned if Lauer was the father of one of her children. In 2016, Morales and Lauer denied the allegations as Morales moved to Los Angeles to be on “Access Hollywood.”
“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,” Morales said at the time. “Any insinuations beyond that are uninformed.”