Why does Yashar Ali use pen name? Reporter's rich family faced persecution in Iran

Yashar Ali, the social media personality and political analyst, was revealed to have a 'rather checkered history' when it comes to Hollywood stars

                            Why does Yashar Ali use pen name? Reporter's rich family faced persecution in Iran
Yashar Ali has written for the likes of NBC News, New York Magazine, and the HuffPost (Twitter/@Yashar)

Yashar Ali, who has written for the likes of NBC News, New York Magazine, and the HuffPost and commands a huge Twitter following, is making headlines after the Los Angeles Magazine did a story on him. The expose revealed the troubled relationships he has had with wealthy and influential figures. 

The social media personality and political analyst, known for his major scoops on the misdeeds of powerful public figures like Les Moonves, Eric Garcetti, and Sharon Osbourne, has a “rather checkered history" when it comes to high-profile Hollywood stars and political players in California. For example, he reportedly borrowed and failed to pay back $179,000 from Ariadne Getty, a philanthropist, and the Getty family heiress, after which she filed a civil suit against him. He also had a falling out with comedian Kathy Griffin, who allegedly evicted him from her house, where he was temporarily staying. 


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Who is Yashar Ali?

For those who have never heard of Ali, he is a 41-year-old American journalist who grew up in Oak Park, Illinois in an Iranian family. He later moved from Illinois to Los Angeles, where his career took off. 

Interestingly, "Ali" is not Yashar's last name but his middle name, while "Hedayat" is his surname. He adopted "Yashar Ali" as his pen name because he comes from a rich and politically connected family, who faced persecution in Iran. According to a profile on him done by Buzzfeed in 2017, the adoption of the pen name was also in the effort to obscure his previous career, which included being a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and an aide to former San Francisco mayor and current California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks onstage during Hulu's "Hillary" NYC Premiere on March 04, 2020, in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Hulu)

When he initially moved to LA, he managed to break into the entertainment industry. He worked as a production assistant on such shows as 'ER' and 'Chicago Hope,' as well as the 1999 film 'Never Been Kissed' starring Drew Barrymore. His IMDb page also notes that he was an uncredited production assistant on 1997’s 'My Best Friend’s Wedding' and 1998’s 'U.S. Marshals'. However, Ali, who has often been described as a "wealthy Renaissance man" by those close to him, soon found a newfound interest in journalism.

How Yashar Ali got into politics 

The fact that he managed to almost develop sources in the entertainment, media, and intelligence communities perplexed a number of democratic as well as conservative officials. “You have to hand it to him. It's one thing to decide in your thirties or forties that you always wanted to be a doctor,” said one Democratic official. “It’s another thing to go from being a somewhat successful political aide to an extremely prominent Twitter persona with no public acknowledgment of the shift.”

Steve Westly, the California campaign co-chairperson for Obama for America, attends the Black and White Gala for Barack Obama at a private residence on August 21, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Ali told Buzzfeed news that friends got him into California's political circuit and he became obsessed while working with Steve Westly, a California businessman running for state controller. “Politics had taken over my life. My head was not at work, it was in the political stuff,” Ali told BuzzFeed News.

Since he did not have to worry about paying rent, he could afford to take professional risks throughout his twenties and thirties. By 2003 to 2004, Yashar was working full-time in politics. People who have worked in politics with Ali, describe him as a hardworking operator with a good news sense. “He understands human relations and that translates to many different things,” said Buffy Wicks, a friend, and Democratic political strategist. “Like when you’re trying to fundraise or put together a political strategy or deal with a press story.”

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