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Steve Rannazzisi: I Had 15 Seconds to Take Back My 9/11 Lie

After comedian Steve Rannazzisi was caught in a big lie last month, The League star, 38, opened up to The Howard Stern Show about his controversial 9/11 story. 

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Speaking on the SiriusXM show about his career-damaging mistake, Rannazzisi got candid about what led him to tell the story that he was working in the Twin Towers the day of the terrorist attacks, Sept. 11, 2001. 

“No I don’t [think of myself as a liar],” Rannazzisi told Stern. “Psychologically disturbed — I’m not sure if that’s the way I’d put it. I do see someone and I’m starting to figure out more about myself. Codependency and wanting people to like me and to make people happy, that’s a big thing.”

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Rannazzisi also revealed how his initial lie came about. 

“It’s not like I moved to Los Angeles with this story with the thought of ‘I’m going to go out and trick everyone,’” he said. “It wasn’t calculated at all. It’s as simple as ‘Hey you’re from New York? Were you just there?’ ‘Yeah, yeah I was downtown.’ ‘You worked there?’” he said, recreating the scenario.

Steve Rannazzisi
Steve Rannazzisi

The FX star also felt he only had a small window of time to retract his statements. 

“You have 15 seconds, I think, to kind of go ‘Wait, hold on, stop, I’m sorry, that’s not true.’ And if you pass that 15 seconds it’s sort of like, now it becomes a thing where you become the guy who is very strange and weird and just said I lied about 9/11,” he said. “And Howard, when I tell you I truly in all of my heart wish 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. you don’t need to lie about that, take that back.’”

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Rannazzisi revealed that his wife, Tracy, who was actually in the World Trade Center at the time, knew about his lie and went along with it. 

“She had to. She had no choice,” he said of the “very loyal” Tracy. “We talked about it, and she did say, ‘What’s going on here?’ I took her story — she worked on the 24th floor at the Financial Center — I just said ‘It just slipped out,’” but he added that his marriage hasn’t suffered since the news broke, and said, “She’s been very supportive.”

When asked if he’d have come forward if The New York Times had not outed him, Rannazzisi said, “I feel like in a way I did come forward on my own when I told my friends and family six years ago.”

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The stand-up comedian apologized, specifically choosing to go on Stern’s New York-based radio show to ask for forgiveness from those affected by the tragedy. 

“I know what I did was terrible, and I know that I hurt a lot of people — people that lost people, people that helped people survive,” he said. “And those people are the people that I truly am sorry. I feel awful that my dumb mistake created a story that hit a wound that should never have been touched.”

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