Fresh off her formal campaign announcement last weekend, Tulsi Gabbard took to the hallowed grounds of Morning Joe’s studio for a friendly sit-down interview.

Surely the expectation was that Joe, Mika, and the rest of the gang would herald Tulsi’s history-making potential as the first female, minority, and non-Christian president. A trailblazer! An inspiration!

Instead, the discussion immediately took on a dark, interrogatory tone, focused (as usual) on Tulsi’s alleged fondness for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Kasie Hunt, the most overtly dimwitted of the Morning Joe crew, asked whether she thinks Assad ‘is a good person.’ You know, to imply that Tulsi had personally befriended the dictatorial ruler, rather than met with him on one occasion for conflict-reduction talks. Tulsi was also pressed to denounce Assad as an ‘enemy’ – because dichotomous ‘good versus evil’ thinking is always known to be a sound analytical mode for approaching international affairs.

Kasie followed up one extraordinarily daft question with another. ‘There have been reports that the Russian apparatus that interfered in 2016 is potentially trying to help your campaign,’ Kasie asked. ‘Why do you think that is?’

Of course, the ‘report’ being referenced here (singular, not plural) was one released over the weekend by NBC News, which was immediately pilloried for being a spectacularly despicable pile of journalistic trash. Tulsi, correctly, replied that the report had been ‘debunked.’ But that won’t stop MSNBC viewers from concluding, on the basis of nothing but purely idiotic innuendo, that she is the beneficiary of some concerted Russian propaganda campaign.

As the only 2020 candidate espousing a stridently anti-war message, these smears are just going to keep coming (and intensifying) – with braindead TV anchors feeling very impressed with themselves for reciting all the expected hawkish talking points.

Joe concluded the very fruitful exchange with a real humdinger of a question: ‘Have you met with any Russians over the past several years?’ he asked, only half-jokingly. Very funny, Joe. You’re a natural.