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The tragedy in Florida | Talking Points Memo

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Twenty-five years ago, the Oklahoma City bombing claimed the lives of 168 people. The building collapse in Surfside, Florida, appears to mark a death toll with only about 20 fewer lives lost. And it was quite clear from day one that the tragedy was headed in that direction.

Of course, the lack of a malevolent bad guy (as opposed to possibly negligent players) behind the collapse changes the way we view the event. But public perception and reaction to it have certainly also been shaped by initial reports that “at least one” person had died. At least outside the community itself, it took days for the reality of how many were “disappeared” to assimilate. Even now there are only a couple dozen confirmed deaths.

This is not a criticism of the reports. Nobody did anything wrong. There is absolutely no rush to confirm or assume that someone’s father, mother, or child is dead before it is absolutely certain. Yet this quirk embedded in the tragedy has deeply shaped perceptions of the magnitude of the horror. After hours of moaning and shaking, a building collapsed in a series of shocking moments and nearby everyone died.

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