The former Today show co-anchor spoke up last week denying the rape allegation made against him in Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill

Nearly eight months after Matt Lauer was accused of rape by former NBC staffer Brooke Nevils in Ronan Farrow's book Catch and Kill, the former Today show co-host claimed he was "falsely accused" in a Mediaite op-ed.

"He believes strongly that Ronan did not verify the information pertaining to him," a source close to Lauer, 62, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "Matt is still angry about it. He felt it was outrageous and done just to sell books, and that Ronan took liberties with his stardom without thorough fact-checking.”

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Lauer's op-ed came the same week that The New York Times also called Farrow, 32, and his reporting practices into question. "Matt wanted to speak out and waited for the right time," the insider says. "He believes that he has been treated unfairly."

Matt Lauer
Credit: Noam Galai/WireImage

The disgraced anchor "intends to fight" because he "will not let it destroy the rest of his life," the source adds. NBC did, however, find evidence of inappropriate sexual behavior between Lauer and Nevils, which ultimately led the network to fire him in November 2017. Nevils' identity remained anonymous at the time.

As Lauer continues to live quietly in the Hamptons, spending time with his three teenage kids and dating Welsh businesswoman Shamin Abas, 51, a friend of his says the journalist "wants to work again."

Ronan Farrow, Matt Lauer
Matt Lauer; Ronan Farrow
| Credit: Brian Killian/FilmMagic;Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

“Doing the journalistic work he loves is definitely in his future," the pal continues.

At the end of the day, "Matt cares so much about what people think about him, even though he might not want to admit that," a third source says. "He's on a mission right now to take down Ronan because he blames Ronan for getting him labeled a rapist."

"Matt completely believes it was a consensual affair, no different from what many powerful people do," says the third source. "His whole mission is to clear his name."

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