Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Steve Rannazzisi Lies About 9/11


Comedian Stephen Rannazzisi admitted he lied about a story of escaping the Twin Towers on 9/11.
This is an article from NYdailynews.com  
I am not familiar with the actor/comedian but I find not only his quotes to be interesting, but the portrayal of lying to also be of worth to those of us who like to study the language associated with deception.  The article states that this might have "killed" his career, which is ironic given how politicians often prosper in polls after being caught lying.  Analysis and commentary are added to the article in bold type. 

No joke: This truth-twisting comedian might have just killed his career.
Days after the fourteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, standup star Steve Rannazzisi admitted Wednesday he made up a tale about escaping from the World Trade Center.
“I was not in the World Trade Center that day,” his publicist said in a statement to The New York Times.

Note the quote is a reliable denial:

"I was not in the World Trade Center that day" includes the pronoun "I", the past tense "was not" and the specific location and day used. 

What makes this RD interesting?
It came from the subject's publicist; not the subject.  Let's listen to what the subject, himself says. 

Here is a quote from him:  


“I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”

"This" is a word to indicate "closeness" while "that" is distancing language.  For this subject, this lie is "very close" to him (note repetition) which causes us to explore the reason why. 
One thing that may be is what the Daily News article began with:  he might have just killed his career.  If he is concerned that this lie is going to impact his career, it would explain why the word "this" is used (twice) instead of the distancing language of "that", which most of us would have used.  

Note that he is not "sorry" but uses the word "truly", which makes the "sorrow" sensitive; however, by adding a second "truly", he indicates an even greater increase in sensitivity.  

What might cause this?

It is noted for weakness but it is deceptive?

Some will conclude that the weakness of being "truly truly sorry" is because it is false, and this may be correct, yet, in context, we would need to know more about him.  For example, as a comedian, he likely offends people on a regular basis, which may mean he apologizes a great deal, not out of any sorrow, but of obligation.  

It is in this extreme environment that a comedian tries to entertain people while avoiding the myriad of "offenses"  and it may be (I don't know this to be so) that he has "apologized" for various "offenses", but it is here that he wishes now to be believed because his other apologies are artificial. 

The point is:  We indicate sensitivity and it is either in context, or in the interview that we seek to learn the cause of sensitivity.  

I once had someone object to "answering a question with a question indicates sensitivity to the question" because...

she had hearing difficulty. 

I was able to show:

Answering a question with a question = sensitivity to the question.  For this particular example, the sensitivity is caused by hearing difficulty.  

In this specific case, however, 'easy' questions were heard and it become evident that the sensitivity was more related to the wording, than the volume.  


In the comedian's case, the "truly truly" weakening could be because of the above sensitivity, or, as initially stated, it could be disingenuous and he gives us now his longer statement to discern:  

He offered a longer apology to his 110,000 Twitter followers in a series of run-on tweets Wednesday morning.

"After I moved with my wife to Los Angeles from New York City in 2001 shortly after 9/11, I told people that I was in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. It wasn’t true. I was in Manhattan but working in a building in midtown and I was not at the Trade Center on that day...it is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them--and the people that love me--that I ask for forgiveness."

Let's look at the statement again:

"After I moved with my wife to Los Angeles from New York City in 2001 shortly after 9/11, I told people that I was in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. It wasn’t true. I was in Manhattan but working in a building in midtown and I was not at the Trade Center on that day...it is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them--and the people that love me--that I ask for forgiveness."

Note "it wasn't true" is not to say "I lied" but "it wasn't true" is passive voice, and it is this subtle distance that is commonly heard in apologies.  This is somewhat expected, which is why, "I lied" or "I told a lie" is considered even stronger.  
Note the inclusion of the word "love" in his apology.  What do you make of its inclusion? 
Note that "I was not at the Trade Center that day" is a reliable denial, in the formula of RD.   The article continues: 

His reps did not return requests for an interview.
So far, the fabricating funnyman has already been slammed by one of his sponsors, Buffalo Wild Wings, which uses him for ad campaigns in sports games.
“We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001,” the chain said in a statement to the Times. “We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.

Fellow funnyman Pete Davison, whose father died in the 9/11 attacks,
slyly mocked Rannazzisi in a tweet that lying comedian didn't get.
"It's ok @SteveRannazzisi people make mistakes ... Can't wait to meet my dad for lunch later," Davidson wrote to him.

"thank you pete. i really appreciate it.," Rannazzisi replied.
Davidson wrote back: ""I think you missed the point ..."

With hyper-sensitivity and "victim status" limiting freedom of speech, a sense of new bullying comes into play where some topics lied about are acceptable and some are not.  


Rannazzisi, 37, was set to appear in another line of ads for the chain during the N.F.L. season.
The comedian told Marc Maron in a 2009 interview he was working as an account manager at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower when the first plane struck. He claimed he ran to safety just minutes seeing a plane smash into his tower.

He told the story in vivid detail, saying he was worried about his girlfriend at the time, who also worked in one of the Towers, and said he had "falling dreams" after witnessing the horrors of the day.
He continued telling the story in interviews for years, despite claiming it was a tough topic for him, telling the Sklarbro Country podcast in 2011 he didn't want to seem like he was "cashing in or anything like that."

But in a 2013 interview, Rannazzisi suddenly started changing his story, saying he was "outside" when the attacks began.
The future comedian was working in Midtown that day, and not for Merrill Lynch, his publicist said. And his girlfriend, now wife, was working in the World Financial Center, not the World Trade Center.
Rannazzisi has a one-hour Comedy Central special, "Breaking Dad," scheduled to run Saturday. The network did not immediately offer comment on Rannazzisi's lie.
He also stars in the sitcom "The League," which is now in its final season.
Rannazzisi also apparently lied about his alma mater on his personal website, saying he went to SUNY Purchase when he in fact graduated from SUNY Oneonta, the Times noted. His publicist called this an "oversight."

26 comments:

ima.grandma said...

Peter, what principle(s) do you teach regarding a subject's run-on sentences and excessive "and"s? What emotions are involved? Interesting article.

ima.grandma said...

Peter, in addition to my question regarding the comedian's statement: 
I notice Sheriff Bowerman also uses long sentences. Several "uh"s are contained in this selection. Again, which emotions arise? Is it nervousness or does it imply story-building?

August 18th:
Sheriff Bowerman: “Well, the family, from what I understand, that we learned during the investigation arrived the evening prior to July 10th, sometime, uh, fairly close to dark on Thursday, July 9th, and then, uh, they went to uh…went to town in Leadore and upon returning they supposedly thought they were turning their child over to their uh, grandfather – the child’s great-grandfather. They went down to the creek which is right next to the campground, and within 10 to 15 minutes they go up to find their child to show him some fish in the stream and he’s nowhere to be found. Grandfather assumes he’s gone down to them because he was within their line of sight and uh, wasn’t too far from the campground. Uh, they started their initial search and eventually called 911 when they realized they couldn’t find the child. “
http://bit.ly/1NxhpJr

Juliet said...

He was experiencing difficulties with his then girlfriend at the time. He maybe was hired through an agency for Merrell Lynch, who had offices midtown and In WTC. He said he was in one of the towers that day in order to elicit sympathy and win approval from his girlfriend, now wife. They are now married, so things did get better. At some point She began to suspect that he had another girlfriend who was working in one of the towers, as whoever he is talking about was not her,methought he may just have been spinning her actual whereabouts that day, too - he so desperately wants her not to think or believe there was another woman, that he is saying, more or less, 'look, I made the whole thing up - all of it, I wasn't even there.' He knows it will reflect badly upon him, but her love for him is more important to him than his career.

I don't know if that is anywhere near, but those are my thoughts.

Juliet said...

I didn't type 'methought' - it was meant to be 'though' - this iPad has a mind all of its own. :-/

Anonymous said...

Imagrammar,
Perhaps there is a difference between public speaking for professionals and writing be it creative, technical, or reporting.

I think, in fact, I suspect, there is a possibility I could be right.

lynda said...

Peter or anyone, I find this interesting about "very" and "truly" weakening a statement. How has this conclusion come about? I ask because I myself, whenever I have done something that warrants an apology always use the word "truly". In my mind, I say that as I AM "truly" sorry or that I "truly apologize", and I say it as I feel that relays to the person that I am sincere. I want that person to know that if I lied, I saw and understand the ramifications or the hurt caused by the lie and I say "truly" or sometimes "sincerely". Are these just unnecessary words, or do they imply that I'm NOT truly sorry? This boggles me a bit.

ima.grandma said...

Anonymous said...
Imagrammar,
Perhaps there is a difference between public speaking for professionals and writing be it creative, technical, or reporting.

I think, in fact, I suspect, there is a possibility I could be right.


Yes. I concur. I appreciate your answer. Thank you.

lynda said...

imagrandma said "Again, which emotions arise? Is it nervousness or does it imply story-building"

excellent question and one I am interested in also. Would excessive throat clearing, or the nervous laughter/giggle fall under SA or would that be body language?

Sus said...

In his Twitter apology he states "I moved", adding "with my wife." WITH separates.

He also makes a point to say it was shortly after 9-11. That was unnecessary and probably still trying to give himself an excuse.

To explicitly mention those who love the victims means that he knows it gave him attention and love. He's worried someone (wife) or someones ( audience) will not love him for himself, without his "story."

ima.grandma said...

lynda
Ooh, I like your question. Both are sounds. Both involve the body. Both are action verbs. I began this post leaning SA. I have examined transcripts and both 'throat clearing' and 'giggles' were recorded. As I contemplate the publish button, I re-evaluate.

lynda said...

imagrandma...when I was younger, I was a nervous giggler. The more serious the subject was, the more I did it. I sounded like a lunatic I'm sure. It was usually when a situation or question I thought was to personal or to uncomfortable for me to answer when I did it. I'm sure it's a stalling tactic and now that I think about it, it probably was so I could form the answer, or "edit" my answer to my comfort level. Hmmmm...that WOULD be SA then, wouldn't it?

ima.grandma said...

Perhaps the answer is 'both'. I'm interested to hear from Peter and John.

Hi Sus.

ima.grandma said...

lynda
I wonder the same about nervous smiles. My oldest daughter sometimes smiled at unexpected times during young adolescence.

Sus said...

To me, "uhs" and "ers" are the speaker measuring their words before speaking. It could be to think what they can tell the public. It could be because they are story building.

I thought the sheriff's statement seemed pretty prepared in what he was willing to give away. He was measuring every word.

My thoughts only.

ima.grandma said...

It definitely shows hesitation, Sus.

Vance Holmes said...

". . . it is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them -- and the people that love me -- that I ask for forgiveness."

I'm not sure about specific statement analysis here, but I note that the same manipulative rhetorical appeal was used by Josh Duggar:

"I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him."

ima.grandma said...

Nice analogy Vance.

Anonymous said...

We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”

Facts:
His show is in it's final season, why is this now an issue?
He is 37 now and made these claims 14 years prior. (Math anyone?)
He had bad dreams after watching the falling man on TV over and over. (who didn't?)
Why does this news outlet pretend to be the go-to source in the entertainment industry?
What tales did this news source come up with 91101?

Yes, I agree, they are re-evaluating their relationship.

ima.grandma said...

Peter I wish I could anonymously slip this into a suggestion box. I don't want to offend.

Have you considered expanding your brand via branching into teaching Assertive Writing or Debate Skills? SA would have made me a super star throughout education and career. I had to settle for star :)pam

C5H11ONO said...

it is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them--and the people that love me--that I ask for forgiveness."


-- I believe he only wants forgiveness from the victims of 9/11, to the people that love them, and to the people that love him. Why is he limiting to only these people? What about people he mislead that don't love him?

ima.grandma said...

Great point C5.

trustmeigetit said...

Peter said "....ironic given how politicians
often prosper in polls after being caught
lying"

This amazes me. I figured everything surrounding Hillary Clinton, that she would pull out of the race. Apparently not...

It amazes me how blatant it can be.

Also so many talk about how great Donald would be because of his success but unless it is not true, 4 times companies he runs have filed bankruptcy. Hardly call that success.



Anonymous said...

Idon'tgetit

Who is this guy and why is his presence on earth so important?

Anonymous said...

The sound of crickets. Peaceful.

Taters said...

Anonymous 6:07



But I worry about the potatoes.

laine333 said...

"Idon'tgetit

Who is this guy and why is his presence on earth so important?"

He's a comedian, a damn funny one, in fact, and his presence on earth is no more or less important than anyone else's. I happen to enjoy his stand-up comedy a great deal and very much look forward to his new special, which airs for the first time on my birthday. When I read this story for the first time yesterday, I was disappointed, but at the same time, I do feel his apology is sincere. Who among us hasn't told a tall tale to make ourselves sound cool? He had no idea when he told this particular lie that he would eventually become even semi-famous and that it could come back and bite him in the butt this way. Lesson learned.