Freelance Journalist and Social-Media Influencer
Independent online voice
Key previous position: TV producer
Notable fact: Began career as TV developer
Yashar Ali’s full name is Yashar Ali Hedayat, but to most of his devoted followers, he’s entered the rarefied air of single-name fame. And that’s probably just as well, because “Yashar” has staked out a niche in political media that’s truly unique—and a bit enigmatic.
When a follower of his Instagram page commented, “I truly can’t figure out which party you lean toward,” Yashar replied, “That’s my job! Thank you.”
That wasn’t always Yashar’s job. He’s a former Democratic aide and fundraiser, having worked for both Hillary Clinton and Gavin Newsom. Between 2015 and 2016, Yashar shifted gears into journalism and quickly developed a robust source list, breaking major stories as a writer for HuffPost, The Daily Beast, and New York Magazine.
He’s respected among journalists, celebrities, and politicians, shifting between each of those worlds with ease. His network puts him in a unique position to drive social dialogue—especially on Twitter, where he demonstrates a finesse with the medium, combining original reporting with pop culture and top news to maintain high engagement. His users see breaking news about Democratic debates and #MeToo scandals living alongside his personal anecdotes about managing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the appropriate number of towels that an adult should own. His other major focus: raising awareness for the humane treatment of elephants.
A 2017 BuzzFeed News profile on Yashar outlined how he feels comfortable in the “fluid space” between friend, political adviser, and reporter, noting that it gives him access to information that others may not have.
Whether it’s banter with Chrissy Teigen, texting with Donald Trump Jr., or discussing the complexities of coming out as a gay man in Iranian culture, Yashar is consistently interesting and authentic. Though he burst onto the journalism scene quickly, there are no signs that his one-man reporting operation will slow down anytime soon.