NBC News anchor Brian Williams spoke Friday for the first time since his suspension and demotion, saying “my ego got the better of me” when he told a false story on the “NBC Nightly News” about being forced down by enemy fire in a military helicopter during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Appearing in a taped interview on NBC’s “Today,” where he faced tough questioning from colleague Matt Lauer, Williams maintained that he did not intend to lie to viewers on Jan. 30 when he recounted traveling on a Chinook helicopter. Williams accurately reported that the aircraft had not been fired upon, before delivering the false account on “The Late Show With David Letterman” in 2013 and then on “NBC Nightly News,” ultimately leading to his career stumble.

“I told the story correctly for years before I told it incorrectly,” he said. “I was not trying to mislead people. That to me is a huge difference here.”

When pressed by Lauer to explain if he knew he was telling a false story on the broadcast, Williams said: “This came clearly from a bad place, a bad urge inside me. This was clearly ego-driven – a desire to better my role in a story I was already in.”

Williams has been serving a six-month suspension since Feb. 11 and ultimately lost his job as anchor of “NBC Nightly News.”

He will return to NBC News in mid-August, in a new role where he will handle breaking news coverage on cable channel MSNBC.