Journalist Yashar Ali files suit against Los Angeles Magazine

Journalist Yashar Ali has filed a defamation lawsuit against Los Angeles Magazine a year after the publication of a nearly 6,000-word feature, calling him someone who “lags behind his friends to get ahead” and mischaracterizing his journalistic standards.

In a lengthy article dated June 9, 2021, Los Angeles Magazine dubbed Ali a “Twitter power broker.” The feature negatively profiled Ali’s work ethic and detailed his various relationships with celebrities and politicians, including comedian Kathy Griffin.

In 2020, Ali said Rick Jacobs, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s top aide, forcibly kissed and hugged him on the lips over the course of a decade. Ali worked in Democratic politics before becoming a freelance journalist, serving as Gavin Newsom’s deputy chief of staff when Newsom was mayor of San Francisco.

Journalist Peter Kiefer sat down for several interviews with Ali for Los Angeles Magazine, but the end result is a story Ali claims characterizes him as a “hip-shooting” reporter. In his lawsuit, Ali says the magazine did not hire a fact-checker, which is usual for a story of this length, and did not verify any of Kiefer’s claims or give Ali an opportunity to refute any of the claims made in the story.

He also argues that all of his answers regarding Griffin should be confidential, but Kiefer included that information in the feature, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Ali asked Los Angeles Magazine to retract the story but said they declined.

He accuses Los Angeles Magazine and its parent company Hour Media Group of “repeated sloppiness” for escaping journalistic ethics and failing to consider the harm done to the people portrayed in their stories. Ali is suing Los Angeles Magazine for defamation and promissory note fraud.

A representative for the magazine emailed the Times on Friday that he was not aware of the lawsuit.

On Tuesday, author Parker Molloy published a follow-up article about Los Angeles Magazine’s profile in her Substack newsletter. In the story, Ali detailed his interviews with Kiefer and his attempts to reach the publication’s editor-in-chief, Maer Roshan.

“The profile contains many factual errors that don’t even require private records, they can be found via Google search,” Ali Molloy said. “The profile was the biggest media and political story for two days and trended on Twitter for both days. It was shared by a multitude of powerful and influential people.”

Roshan told Molloy that Los Angeles Magazine stands by his story.

“Of course, our article has been rigorously fact-checked and legally scrutinized, and by prior arrangement with Yashar, each of his quotes that appeared in the story has been approved by him,” Roshan said.

Los Angeles Magazine and Roshan did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the allegations in Ali’s lawsuit.

Ali said the article portrayed him as an unethical journalist who recorded his interviews with Kiefer without his permission. But Ali claims Kiefer agreed to let him record all of their conversations before they began speaking for the story.

The Los Angeles Magazine story detailed Ali’s circumstances over the years, including a period when he stayed with Griffin. The story goes that Ali had exceeded his welcome by several months and Griffin’s staff became concerned when Ali began receiving official government mail at their home. But Ali said none of this was true. He said his mail was delivered to his manager and that he was given a replacement health insurance card at Griffin’s home only once for an urgent matter.

The feature claims Ali became suicidal during the fact checking process. Ali said it was an independent issue, noting that his uncle in Iran had died of COVID-19 during that time, according to his lawsuit, but the feature attempted to match his message on Twitter that he was having suicidal thoughts with the future one -published story and the negative stories about Ali’s relationship with Griffin.

With this statement, the article wrongly implies this [Ali] acknowledged the truth of the alleged revelations in the article and was dismayed that the public would learn the alleged truth about him,” the lawsuit reads.

Ali said he was unaware of all the negative allegations in the article when he revealed he had suicidal thoughts. He took an extended hiatus from social media after the article was published in Los Angeles Magazine, but has since returned to posting regularly. Journalist Yashar Ali files suit against Los Angeles Magazine

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