Cowell reportedly gave the contestants the bird when he rested his head in his hands leaving his middle digit extended. The controversy was sparked when the Drudge Report ran a story about Finger-gate on Wednesday.
27 million viewers tuned in to the hit show on Tuesday. The finger came after Cowell got into a verbal sparring match with contestant Fantasia Barrino after her performance. As Barrino then spoke with host Ryan Seacrest, the camera turned to Cowell who sat leaning on the judges table with his middle finger propping up his head up.
The Idol judge dismissed the claims that he intentionally flipped anyone “the bird”, and made light of the controversy during a call-in interview on Seacrest’s syndicated talk show.
"Give me a break. If you scratch your nose with your middle finger, you're flipping somebody off; you put your head in your hands. It's crazy,” Cowell told Seacrest.
"If it carries on like this, we're all going to be wearing boxing gloves on the show, just in case there's—as they say—any inappropriate gestures."
Cowell may have been alluding to the recent outcry over anything broadcast on television that may be deemed offensive, following Janet Jackson’s breast incident during the Super Bowl Half-Time show.
Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said Wednesday
that the network had reviewed the show before it aired “live” on tape delay
Tuesday night and said that the company’s standards-and-practices staff
"found it to be nothing more than a benign body posture. He was resting
his head on his hands."