No matter how alarming all this was, there was always an underlying sense of glee in Maddow’s coverage, the bastards were finally getting their due, the whole treacherous plot steadily coming undone via Robert Mueller’s investigation and the brilliant, long-form explications of it by America’s champion at 9 p.m., please set your DVRs.

It was almost touching how excited Maddow was to come back from a trout-fishing trip last Friday to host her show on an emergency basis upon the arrival of the long-anticipated report. Little did she know she only was setting the stage for her own discrediting.

No one should deny Maddow’s considerable talents. She’s smart and a sprightly writer who does her homework and who can carry an hour of TV compellingly almost entirely on her own — a rare skill.

This wasn’t simply mindless partisanship. It was a deeper delusion.