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Fit to print: Police officers outside of the New York Times offices on Friday, Oct. 12, 2001.  

Indeed, it was far from clear whether the nation as a whole would see this as a new threat against the country or as a parochial media event. This was another part of the weirdness. What if this had nothing to do with international terrorism and was just usual American celebrity madness? (Could it be that an envious author whose book about the Middle East hadn't become a best-seller had targeted Judith Miller?)

It was hard for people in the media business-many of whose friends were being quarantined in the New York Times building (there was a great deal of trading in cell-phone numbers) -- to right away get the proper affect. A certain gravity, and self-importance (one did not, apparently, have to be in Islamabad to look fear in the face), gave way to a sense of the black comedy of the situation. The WTC attack had so raised the bar in terms of terror occasions that, well, what was a little cutaneous anthrax among friends?

There was even a kind of reverse competitiveness. As a CBS employee said, "At least we're not the No. 1-rated network. I feel like if we had been, it would've been us."

Keith Kelly, the New York Post's media reporter, who was just being handed latex gloves when I called him, said: "It seems all right to make jokes about this." His immediate concern was getting to the NBC woman with the infection, who, he said with some discouragement, would probably give her first interview to NBC.

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