Billy Ray Fires Back on Miley Topless Photo

06/17/2008 at 08:50 AM EDT

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus



The Miley Cyrus photo controversy reared its ugly head once again – this time on Tuesday's Today show, when Miley's father, Billy Ray Cyrus, made his first TV comments about the negative reaction to the pictures in the June issue of Vanity Fair.

"I didn't know they were going to strip her down and wrap her in a blanket," Cyrus, appearing to promote his NBC show Nashville Star, told show anchor Meredith Vieira. Of the seemingly topless shot of his daughter, he said, "I was surprised when I saw it ... but, hey, that's life. Stuff happens."

Of the complaints that surfaced once the photos became public, Cyrus said he never thought to complain. "I didn't," he told Vieira, " 'cause my dad always said, 'The more you stomp in poop, the more it stinks.' "

His own reaction, he said, was, "Okay, this happened. We gotta deal with it."

At the time, Miley Cyrus apologized for the photos, which were taken by Annie Leibovitz.

As it was, Billy Ray said, he was not able to prevent the backless photo from being taken, because he simply wasn't there. "I didn't have any choice," he said. "I had a show to do, and an obligation, to go to Washington state ... playing for the troops just back from Iraq."

As for the picture of Miley with her father, striking a pose that, to some, appeared more suitable between a boyfriend and girlfriend rather than a father and daughter, Billy Ray laughed.

"That's just a daddy who loves his daughter a whole lot," he said.

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