Former 'Today' Co-Host Natalie Morales Lauds 'Courage' of Matt Lauer's Accuser

Hours after Matt Lauer was fired from his long-time anchor position on NBC's TODAY Show, Lauer's former co-host Natalie Morales has spoken out.

Morales praised the unnamed woman who came forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Lauer.

"I woke up to the news like everyone this morning — just in shock," Morales said on Access Hollywood Live. “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.”

Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb broke the news of Lauer's firing at the top of Wednesday morning's show, reading a statement from NBC News chairman Andrew Lack that said Lauer had been terminated after a female colleague filed a "detailed" report against Lauer concerning "inappropriate sexual behavior."

"While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident," Lack said in his statement.

In 2016, both Lauer and Morales denied rumors of an extra-marital affair between the two of them. The rumors sparked after Morales left Today last year to become a host for Access Hollywood.

Lauer told Page Six that “every aspect of this story is untrue, and it’s frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved.” Morales added the story was “completely absurd,” as well as “damaging, hurtful and extremely sexist.”

Megyn Kelly also applauded the anonymous accuser for coming forward.

"This one does hit close to home. I too have known Matt for a long time and he has been a friend and kind and supportive to me in my transition to NBC News, and I see the anguish on my colleagues’ faces," Kelly said during Wednesday's Megyn Kelly Live.

"But when this happens, what we don’t see is the pain on the faces of those who found the courage to come forward, and it is a terrifying thing to do. We don’t see the career opportunities women lose because of sexual harassment or the intense stress it causes a woman dealing with it when she comes to work each day," she continued. "I am thinking of those women this morning and hoping they are okay. The days to come will not be easy."

Other Today show crew members seem to be conflicted by the news. Kathie Lee Gifford said during the ten o'clock hour of Today that she prays for forgiveness for her former co-worker.

"No person is perfect in this world. Nobody is," Gifford said. "We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, is what scripture says. And what we need now is forgiveness, and we need mercy for one another."

Gifford went on to talk about the way that victims often feel like they're to blame for the consequences of a scandal like this. She said that the only way to "heal" and move forward is with forgiveness on all sides.

"I send out my love right now to the person — whoever it is — that came forward. May God heal that person. I send it to Matt, and his children and his wife. May God bless that family and heal."

Photo Credit: Getty / Chance Yeh / Contributor