Earlier this week, comedian Steve Rannazzisi admitted that he had lied for years about working at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. In the wake of that, Buffalo Wild Wings has announced that it will pull its TV commercials featuring Rannazzisi.
“Upon careful review, we have decided to discontinue airing our current television commercials featuring Steve Rannazzisi," Wild Wings said in a statement. Comedy Central is reportedly still weighing what they want to do with Rannazzisi's one-hour comedy special, Breaking Dad, which was supposed to air this Saturday night on the channel. The network told the Daily News it is "very disappointed” in the comedian and “determining how we will move forward."
After being confronted by the NY Times, Rannazzisi issued a statement apologizing for repeatedly telling a story about working at Merrill Lynch’s offices on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane struck the north tower. "I was not at the Trade Center on that day," he said in his apology. "I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry."
It turns out Rannazzisi made a personal apology to one person before issuing his public one: Marc Maron revealed that Rannazzisi called him earlier this week to apologize directly to him, because Rannazzisi first told the story on Maron's podcast in 2009.
“He said, ‘I need to apologize to you for lying to you, I’m sorry, it’s not true and I’m just not that guy who does that,’” Maron said on his podcast Thursday. Maron said he accepted the apology, and emphasized to his listeners that his show is not 60 Minutes: "If someone comes on this show and tells a story about their life, I will take what they’re saying at face value," Maron said. "If people come on here and make stuff up, that’s on them...I appreciate the apology, it was a bad thing to do, but that’s on Steve now and that’s his cross to bear on his conscience."
The Washington Post and Vulture both grappled with trying to understand what led Rannazzisi to tell the story in the first place. The Post offers up the possibility that he was affected by Munchausen Syndrome, comparing him to fellow 9/11 liar Tania Head, the former president of the World Trade Center Survivors' Network. Then again, they add, "the simplest explanation may be that such liars feel ignored and crave attention. Sometimes there’s an intangible social reward, particularly in recent years, to having been a victim."
Vulture's personal essay on the matter, which is rich in empathy and poor in persuasiveness, seems to argue that the strangeness of being interviewed and the pressures of impostor syndrome in the face of burgeoning fame are enough to drive anyone to make up stories about themselves.
Of course, not everybody makes up a story about almost dying on 9/11 and repeats it throughout multiple interviews year after year until getting caught...