More than 1,000 readers shared their brackets with us, and a large plurality (nearly a quarter) picked Maddow for the top spot. As reader Jim Murphy said, Maddow “ripped through the field like the Isiah Thomas Indiana team did back in 1981,” fueled by the conviction that it was “her job to educate ‘We the Stupid’ on every rumor and how they all fit together.”

Maddow excelled at connecting nonconnected dots. Night ­after night for two years, she spun tinfoil-hat theories about how “Donald Trump is going to do what Russia wants,” how “the presidency is effectively a ­Russian op.” This, even as the Trump administration armed ­Poland and Ukraine, bombed Russian operatives in Syria and squeezed Moscow’s chief Mideast client, Iran.

In a six-week period in the spring of 2017, the MSNBC star devoted more than half of her segments to Russia, according to an estimate by The Intercept. “Every day, I lead my show and think I’m going to be talking about something else,” she admitted at one point. “But every day, over the course of the news cycle, a new piece of [the collusion story] falls into place.”