Comedian Who Lied About Being In World Trade Center On 9/11 Tries To Explain Why He Did It

Photo: Michael Buckner/Variety/REX USA.
In September, The New York Times broke the news that comedian and The League star Steve Rannazzisi had lied about escaping from the south tower of the World Trade Center before the second plane hit on September 11, 2001. Since The Times revealed his story was a lie, Rannazzisi has been dropped from his endorsement deal with Buffalo Wild Wings. He asked the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones for forgiveness in a tweet before going quiet on social media. Yesterday morning, Rannazzisi broke his silence on Twitter to announce an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, where he addressed the controversy head on.

Stern didn't go easy on Rannazzisi at all. "Since this whole thing went down, do you ever say to yourself why? Are you aware yourself why you lied about being in the Twin Towers?... There's gotta be something deeply psychological about this; you want people to love you or something like that," Stern prompted him. "Was the lying thing about experiences in your life a chronic thing?... Do you think of yourself as psychologically disturbed?"

"Codependency, and wanting people to like me and make people happy. That's a big thing," Rannazzisi said. "It's not like I moved to Los Angeles with this story, with this thought that I was going to go out there and trick everyone... It was as simple as sitting at the Comedy Store [after 9/11], and everyone's like, 'Hey, you're from New York?... You worked there?' 'Yeah, I did.'... You have like 15 seconds to kind of go, 'Hold on, okay, that's not true.' If you pass that 15 seconds, it's like, now it becomes a thing where... I become the guy who's very strange and weird and just lied about 9/11... I truly in all of my heart wish that I had that voice that I feel like I have now that said, 'Hey man, take a breath, relax. People are going to like you. People are going to understand who you are when they get to know you. Take that back.'"

Rannazzisi's wife and family members were also forced to become complicit in his lie. He confessed to Stern that he knows this is something he'll have to sit down and tell his kids about one day. Stern warned him that his kids will throw it in his face when he least expects it. "If I was your kid, when you have to discipline them, and you say, 'Hey, go clean your room,' they're going to go, 'Hey, you lied about 9/11! Go fuck yourself!'"

Stern also asked if Rannazzisi feels any empathy for Brian Williams. "I can't say, 'Why did [Williams] do that?' I've done that. I was very immature... I do understand how sometimes things can just kind of get away from you for one second."

Rannazzisi did come across as apologetic. "The hurt and the pain and the nervousness that you hear now comes from... I know what I did was terrible. I know that I hurt a lot of people — people that lost people, people that helped people survive... I am truly sorry... I feel awful."

Watch the full interview below.

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