Call-In Show Lets Iraqis Grill Their Leaders

Popular program cuts red tape, gets results, frightens politicians
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2009 4:48 PM CST
Call-In Show Lets Iraqis Grill Their Leaders
A television set plays in a home in an area of Baghdad that has been heavily afflicted by fighting, March 12, 2008.   (Getty Images)

Iraqi politicians are starting to fear a prime-time television in show that gives ordinary citizens a direct chance to berate them. Hosted by portly TV vet Ala Mushin, Hotline will never be mistaken for American Idol, yet it’s become one of the most popular shows in Iraq, NPR reports. Each night the show brings on a new high-ranking official to field direct, personal questions from viewers.

In the taping NPR caught, for example, the minister of the interior was confronted by many callers whose family members were injured serving in the police force. Mushin doggedly pursued each case, refusing to let callers hang up until the minister had given a satisfactory answer. That tough style, and the instant solutions it produces, have made the show a phenomenon—and made a lot of politicians too scared to appear. (More Iraq stories.)

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