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July 14, 2016 03:20 PM

Matt Lauer had a very important reason to address reports about his relationship with Today co-host Natalie Morales: “It’s about family.”

The journalist and longtime member of Today called in to The Mike Lupica Podcast on Wednesday and explained, “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.”

Reports surfaced this week that Morales, 44, was moving to Access Hollywood in Los Angeles because of the demise of an inappropriate relationship with Lauer, 58.

In response, Lauer told Page Six: “Every aspect of this story is untrue, and it’s frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved.”

Natalie Morales
Troy Rizzo/WireImage

Morales – who first joined Today as a national correspondent in 2006 and moved up to co-anchor in 2008 – also spoke out, calling the story “completely absurd,” as well as “damaging, hurtful and extremely sexist.”

Lauer also responded to Lupica’s questions about Ann Curry‘s dramatic Today departure in 2012 after a short two years, praising the show’s staff for not letting “negativity … ruin their morale.”

He said the show’s subsequent fall in ratings was due to overconfidence. “In this business, the minute you start feeling comfortable about the show you’re doing or the ratings you’re getting, you’re in big trouble,” he explained, adding, “I think he challenging times have made the show better and me better – certainly stronger.”

Of his career with NBC – Lauer is approaching 20 years on the morning show – the media staple said, “I think I’m probably the luckiest guy in broadcasting – and I’ve always felt this way.”

“You get your dream job and, in my opinion, despite anything they might say about you professionally or personally, you shut up and you just do the job – and enjoy it,” Lauer said. “And I decided a long time ago that I will do it until I enjoy it, and the second I don’t enjoy it, then I do it a disservice because it is the best job in broadcasting, I think.”

He adds that “the benefits [my job] provides so far outweigh any negative element of it. I kid my friends who are golfers, and I say, ‘If you ever hear me complain, hit me in the butt with a putter’ because I have no reason to complain. Even on days when you don’t like what you see in the paper, I have no reason to complain.”

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