The second group is an endangered species. One reason is that the ambitions of mainstream media that, however fitfully, once sought to expose them to the life of the mind and to the contest of ideas, have themselves shrunk.

We have gone from the heyday of television intellection which boasted shows hosted by, among others, David Susskind and David Frost, men that, whatever their self-absorptions, were nonetheless possessed of an admirable highmindedness, to the pygmy sound-bite rants of Sean Hannity and the inanities of clowns like Stephen Colbert.