Who's Who?: Media Confuses Allies With Enemies by Daniel Clark at The Reality Check. Also posted at Ariana Afghanistan.

"Hundreds killed, thousands wounded in attack on New Orleans."

If people had read headlines like that in January of 1815, their natural conclusion would have been that the city had been sacked, and its inhabitants slaughtered. Nobody would have guessed that Andrew Jackson had just led the United States to one of the most decisive military victories ever recorded.

The headline of a hard news story is supposed to be a representation of the information that follows. To simply say that lots of people died hardly presents an accurate picture of the Battle of New Orleans. Anybody who reported it that way would have had to be either an imbecile, or else somebody who didn't consider it important who won.

Editors throughout America's print and online media should make up their minds which of those categories they belong in, because the way they presented the Taliban's recent defeat at Musa Qala defies any other explanation. Here are some of the most egregiously misleading headlines from that May 19th story.

"Taliban attack town, 53 dead" -- CNN.com

"Surging Afghan violence leaves more than 100 dead" -- The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Scores killed in battles in Afghanistan: Taliban offensive seen as bid to boost influence in south" -- Baltimore Sun

"Afghanistan Violence Kills Up To 105" -- CBSNews.com

"Scores die in Afghan battles: Government forces, Taliban in worst fighting in years" -- Chicago Tribune

"More than 100 killed in fighting in Afghanistan" -- USA Today

"100 Reported Killed in Afghan Fighting" -- ABCNews.com

"105 die in Afghan attacks" -- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Scores Killed in Afghan Battles" -- Los Angeles Times

"Series of Taliban attacks leaves more than 100 dead" -- The Columbus Dispatch

These grim statements create an impression of absolute chaos. Until you get to the fourth or fifth paragraph of any of the corresponding articles, you'd think all the gains that had been made over the last four and a half years were suddenly lost, and that the Taliban were on the verge of returning to power. The facts that the attacks were repelled, and that the Taliban suffered the overwhelming majority of the casualties, are treated as if they were scarcely relevant.

Also lost is the significant development that it was the Afghan National Police, and not coalition troops, that turned back the Taliban. The Afghans' success in defending themselves is an important story, especially as Iraq is slowly progressing in the same direction. A realistic, informative headline would have said something like, "Afghan police rout Taliban aggressors."...