A skeptic might wonder whether Trump’s reflexive opponents, having spent years assuming Trump was a Russian asset and working backwards, now assume Trump wants to start wars and look for any evidence in support of their theory. This assumption is dangerous, because the bigger risk is not of immediate war with Iran, but escalation that stumbles into a war. If mixed messaging in foreign policy is a concern, so is the tendency of Trump’s critics inside and outside the media to create public confusion over the administration’s intent regarding Iran.

A skeptic also might wonder whether the collapse of the Russian collusion story is causing Trump’s opponents to look for a new way to frighten voters on foreign policy, particularly if the economy remains strong. At the very least, covering an imagined war with Iran is a convenient distraction from covering stories more favorable to Trump and less favorable to those who suggested he was a Manchurian Candidate.