Is it really? On Monday I wrote to an old friend, Robert McChesney, a professor of communications at the University of Illinois who has been a frequent target of Mr. Beck in recent weeks for his left-wing views and also for co-founding Free Press, an advocacy group on media policy. Did Mr. McChesney get a chance to respond on the red phone or any other way? No. “He never asked me or Free Press to call the red phone,” Mr. McChesney wrote me.

Then I emailed Mark Lloyd, the Chief Diversity Officer at the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Beck has attacked Mr. Lloyd numerous times in recent weeks, repeatedly airing video clips in which he appears to hold noxious views. Did Mr. Lloyd get a chance to call the red phone? “No, no one gave me a phone number to call Beck.”…

What Mr. Beck’s silent phone really symbolizes is a new kind of ignorance, a coming high-tech dark age in which people can choose to blow off professional standards of inquiry; in which they can wall themselves off with cable TV and friendly Web sites, dismiss what displeases as liberal bias, and demand that any contrary view be transmitted to them via telephone call from the president himself.