Media Distortion And Psy-Ops Spin
"One of the wonderful things about the internet is that it is easier than ever to see lots of news reports on the same event and to get a sense of the different angles that reporters work in reporting them...
CNN's headline news reported repeatedly on Sunday afternoon and evening that the Mahdi Army fighters holed up in the shrine of Ali were "foreign fighters." This allegation is Allawi's propaganda, and simply untrue. The Mahdi Army are Iraqi Shiite ghetto youth. They are not foreigners. There may be a sprinkling of Iranian volunteers among them, but the number is tiny.
Likewise, CNN appears to have been the victim of a second-hand psy-ops campaign, insofar as it is referring to the guerrillas as "anti-Iraqi forces." The idea of characterizing them not as anti-American or anti-regime but "anti-Iraq" was, according to journalist Nir Rosen, come up with by a PR company contracting in Iraq. Nir says that they were told that no Iraqis would fall for it. So apparently it has now been retailed to major American news programs, on the theory that the American public is congenitally stupid.
The American public has no idea how bad it is in Iraq because it gets lots of contradictory reports and has no way of wading through or evaluating them..."
More at Juan Cole.