The Howard Bealeization, or Glenn Beckifaction, of Rachel Maddow is a reminder that partisan paranoia has bipartisan appeal. Maddow is right to question the summarizing of a 300ish-page report into four measly pages, to insist on transparency, to challenge the motives of the Trump-friendly AG—and she’s not alone in doing so. But for Maddow, every piece of information remains a clue that might take down the Trump empire. There is no adjustment for how the report has been widely received, no skepticism about what the report might actually contain, just cockamamie connections, the feverish belief that every single thing we don’t know is the all-important fact, that the smoking gun of collusion is out there, and that, yes, Robert Mueller is still going to swoop in and save us…

I’ll admit that I haven’t watched Maddow regularly for the past few years. Turning on her show this week was like discovering a Facebook friend is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She looks the same as she did, she even sounds the same, but 15 minutes into a conspiratorial rant with no sense of proportion or, honestly, responsibility, you realize that something has gone wildly wrong: She wants to believe the instantly impeachable truth is out there more than she wants the truth, as gnarly and corrupt as it is. It’s easy to understand why this might appeal to the 4 million or so Trump-sick viewers who regularly watch Maddow’s program, but her audience is being served an alt-reality just as surely as Hannity’s is. If her audience of susceptible ostriches and amateur detectives, people who bury themselves in conspiratorial details hoping to unearth the one clue that will beam us out of this reality, is not as malignant as Fox’s audience of the hateful, aggrieved, and ignorant, in this one regard at least, what’s happening between MSNBC and Fox is not a contest: More than one cable news host can disserve their audience at a time.