Every time the Washington political press freaks out and goes into full panic mode against President Trump, the blockbuster, Watergate-volume story always unfolds the same way.
First the news starts leaking or breaking. Newsrooms from the Potomac to the Hudson become seized and fixated on every morsel of the delicious story. News flashes zing around the internet.
Then it hits cable television and the press starts slinging the most salacious and scandalous accusations they can whip up, charging the president with the highest crimes imaginable.
Each time, these reporters sink deeper and deeper into a fantasyland as they dream bigger and bigger. THIS TIME, they keep thinking, we FINALLY got him!
Reporters and Democrats alike - not to repeat myself - are actually now speculating about whether Mr. Trump will survive the certain impeachment hearings to come.
But then, as the heavy breathing subsides and the adrenaline rush gives way to factual, concrete reporting, the most damning charges fall away.
Turns out Mr. Trump is a germaphobe and wasn't in that Russian hotel room.
The bust of Martin Luther King is still in the Oval Office.
He didn't abandon conservatives by naming his sister to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Trump's Tower - and people involved in his campaign - were, in fact, surveilled.
Slowly, agonizingly, Truth becomes very inconvenient for all these people predicting Mr. Trump's certain demise.
In the end, they are all left clinging to the smallest Styrofoam shard of their original story, bobbing in the harsh sea of Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome.
The last remaining wastrels pontificating about the "scandal" formerly larger than Watergate are left with just one flimsy accusation.
"Well, he could have handled it better," they sniff. "He didn't follow Washington political protocol."
Are you freaking kidding me? It all starts with charges of high crimes and misdemeanors - impeachment imminent - and when it all turns out to be fake news these people walk away grumbling about how Mr. Trump could have handled it better?
Just look at this latest "Watergate" scandal.
The upshot is that Mr. Trump finally fired a man who every single person in all of Washington, except perhaps James B. Comey's wife, has said at one time or another in the past year should have been fired.
Why was he fired? For all the reasons every single person in Washington has stated at one point or another during the past year.
But if you are among the legions around here suffering from Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome, it is always much more sinister.
The FBI was closing in on Donald Trump's sordid connections to the Russians! (Minus the laughably debunked Moscow hotel room scandal that was one of Mr. Trump's previous "Watergate" scandals.)
The FBI had just asked for more money to pursue the Trump-Russia connection, we were breathlessly told. Subpoenas were just being issued to known associates of known associates of President Trump!
So incensed by the lies of the scandal's coverup, it was reported, that a top official in the Justice Department was threatening to quit in protest rather than carry on working for such a criminal in the White House.
And then inconvenient reality unfolds again.
One by one, each of these blockbusters came under clouds of scrutiny. Nobody quits in protest.
By Thursday morning, the whole scandal had substantially come unraveled.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said he and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, had recently met with Mr. Comey and came away with the clear impression that, in fact, Mr. Trump is not a target of any investigation by the FBI.
"Sen. Feinstein and I heard nothing that contradicted the president's statement," he said.
And in a stunning display of nonpartisanship, Mrs. Feinstein agreed.
Well, OK. But the White House should have handled it better.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.