Which finger did Savannah Guthrie brandish in Matt Lauer’s direction the other day?
Well, Matt told Jay Leno his “Today” show co-host really did flip him the bird — referring, it seemed, to her middle finger — on the air during a segment about vacuum cleaners.
But then Matt insisted that, while Savannah evidently did “flip him off,” she used her index finger.
The incident apparently ignited the usual debate on-line on social media. So Leno took it upon himself to show the video on “The Tonight Show” Thursday night when Lauer made a guest appearance.
The question at the center of the storm: Which finger was it?
“Did she flip you off the other day?” Leno asked Lauer to start the conversation.
“Yes, yes she did,” Matt answered. “We were doing a segment outside with vacuum cleaners, and I made a joke … that maybe [this was] the first time [Savannah] ever had a vacuum cleaner in [her] hand and she flipped me the bird! She did, on the air!”
But then Lauer said, “In reality, she put this finger up [he displayed an index finger].”
“What do you think?” Lauer asked the “Tonight Show” audience as Leno prepared to show the video. “I’ll let you be the judge.”
After the video was shown, and the audience was “polled” (by the sound of their applause), it was clear that more than 90 percent of them felt it looked like a middle finger, not an index finger.
Savannah Guthrie isn’t the only one taking shots at Lauer these days, as Leno pointed out at another point in his conversation with Lauer Thursday night. Lauer’s nice-guy image was damaged considerably during the past year because of his alleged role in driving Ann Curry off the show last spring. At around the same time, the “Today” show lost its long-time position as the nation’s top-rated morning show to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” which has held onto the top spot ever since.
More recently, the Ann Curry story was revived with the publication of a new book about the morning-show wars — “Top of the Morning” by Brian Stelter — in which Lauer’s role is described in detail.
Without mentioning the book specifically, Leno asked Lauer how he’s doing. “You’ve been taking a lot of hits in the press lately,” Leno said. “How are you holding up?”
“I’m doing well,” Lauer said. “It’s been an interesting year, no question about it. But, you know, the fact of the matter is, everyday millions of people still invite us into their homes to deliver the news. I am not a guy who complains.”