The Rumors That Once Swirled Between Natalie Morales And Matt Lauer

The following article includes allegations of sexual assault.

Natalie Morales and Matt Lauer are journalists who have been in the industry for more than two decades. Morales has worked for several major networks like Court TV, News 12, and Access Hollywood, to name a few, per TV Guide. Meanwhile, Lauer has reported for WOWK, PM Magazine, and NBC News, according to Britannica. Both journalists worked together on "Today" starting in 2006 when Morales joined the morning show as a national correspondent after Ann Curry's departure and ending in 2017 when Lauer was fired following sexual misconduct allegations.

Morales has won three Daytime Emmy Awards for her performance on "Today." She spent more than a decade on the network before moving to California in 2016 to host "Access Hollywood" and become the West Coast anchor of "Today." Morales landed a co-hosting position on "The Talk" in October 2021 — and in October 2022, she was also named a CBS News correspondent. "It's a privilege to contribute to the CBS News programs, and I'm hoping to tell the stories that matter and to talk about issues many of us face," she said during an interview with CBS News. "I'm looking forward to working with the great team of producers and correspondents to bring the best stories to CBS viewers on Saturday nights."

Although Morales and Lauer spent several years working together, rumors started to swirl about their working relationship — which raised eyebrows and hurt both of their careers.

Sources say Natalie Morales and Matt Lauer were once accused of having an affair

In 2016, Natalie Morales left her role on the Today show for a position with Access Hollywood in Los Angeles. While it appeared to be a regular career move, sources told Page Six there was more to her abrupt departure. "There's an awkwardness between Matt and Natalie . . . He protected her for a long time, and now it seems like something has gone awry," an insider said, alluding that Matt Lauer and Morales had an inappropriate relationship. 

Meanwhile, another source claims that couldn't be further from the truth. "There's no validity to it. Zero fact," the individual told the outlet. "NBC News loves her. Her contract was up in the fall, and she wanted to try something new," the insider continued." News of an alleged affair was shocking because Morales had been married to Joe Rhodes since 1998, and Lauer was married to his wife, Annette Roque. However, Morales was the first to deny the rumors. "It is damaging, hurtful, and extremely sexist," she told Page Six. "This move was dictated by me and my desire to grow in my career. Any insinuations beyond that are uninformed."

Lauer followed up with a similar statement calling out the "untrue" story. "It's frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved," he said. Although they were able to clear up any doubt, Lauer got caught up in his own mess.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Matt Lauer was accused of sexually assaulting several women

In 2017, Matt Lauer made national headlines after a former NBC News employee came forward and accused the anchor of sexually assaulting her while they were on assignment at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Variety. The network swiftly took action and wasted no time firing Lauer. "Matt Lauer's conduct was appalling, horrific, and reprehensible, as we said at the time," NBC News said in a statement (via Variety). "That's why he was fired within 24 hours of us first learning of the complaint." 

Shortly after he was let go, more women continued to speak out about their personal stories of sexual assault at the hands of Lauer, The New York Times reported. The journalist denied the allegations and instead claimed what happened between him and his former colleague was an "extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter" (via People). Lauer had been married for more than a decade to Annette Roque when the accusations came to light. Roque filed for divorce in July 2019 after nearly 20 years of marriage, per Entertainment Tonight

As everything started to go downhill for Lauer, his former co-worker, Natalie Morales, shared a few words in support of the victim. "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," Morales said on "Access Hollywood" (via Us Weekly).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).