The death toll across the American Southeast after a reported 137 tornados barreled through with hellish fury on Wednesday evening stands at about 300, with most of the deaths recorded in Florida’s western neighbor, Alabama. In a conference call with reporters, FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate would not estimate the number of dead for fear of floating an embarrassing lowball. While the full effect of the infrastructural destruction across the South has no dependable estimate as of yet, it is safe to predict that thousands of Americans are newly — and suddenly — homeless and scores of public schools no longer exist.
So what’s leading the homepage of the Miami Herald? “Royal watchers celebrate historic wedding”, with a photo of Prince William, in royal-blue sash and gold-embroidered epaulets, kissing his new bride, looking lovely in a wedding dress no doubt valued at several times the cost of the FEMA trailers that will no doubt arrive woefully late to those Alabamans whose homes have just been razed to the ground by the breath of Mother Nature.
The Herald is not alone in its journalistic malpractice. Locally, the Palm Beach Post is also leading with William and Kate’s wedding (in its “Celebrity Stalker” section), while the Sun Sentinel has the NFL draft featured under an eye-catching red banner promising live video of the Royal Wedding. Farther north, the many-times decorated St. Petersburg Times is featuring a photo of two middle-aged women from the Bay Area watching William and Kate on a large flat-screen television while dressed up as royalty in Wal-Mart brand tiaras. Tampa Bay, incidentally, is only a few roads and a few hundred miles from Tuscaloosa, Al., where the tornado death toll stands at 36.