Given that “collusion” has turned out to be dry well, to the ordinary viewer it will look a hell of lot like the MSNBCs of the world humped a fake story for two consecutive years in the hopes of overturning election results ahead of time. Trump couldn’t have asked for a juicier campaign issue, and an easier way to argue that “elites” don’t respect the democratic choices of flyover voters. It’s hard to imagine what could look worse.

For the commercial press to recapture any dignity after this collusion debacle, it has to at least start admitting to its role in artificially raising expectations in the last two years. It’s hard to imagine them doing that, however. This story has been so enormously profitable for cable stations, in particular, it will be hard for them to let go of this narrative. What are they going to do, go back to just reporting the news? One can almost feel how depressed network executives must be at the thought. They’ve trained audiences have come to expect bombshells. What will they sell now?