OBAMA AND SOME GUY HE BARELY KNOWS…. About a week or so ago, the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran an 1,100-word piece from conservative writer Stanley Kurtz about Barack Obama’s past with 1960’s-era radical William Ayers. The Journal gave it a provocative headline — “Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism on Schools” — and far-right blogs got really excited about it.

There was one small problem: Kurtz, after exhaustive research, couldn’t find any meaningful dirt.

But the hunger for a scandal remains, and unhinged Republicans just know there’s more to this story, if only major media outlets would bother to keep digging. So, the New York Times kept digging, and published a 2,100-word piece today, detailing the “crossed paths” of Obama and Ayers. Presumably, the report is intended, and will no doubt be used, to push the Ayers “story” back into the political discussion of the day.

And yet, there’s that problem again: the Times couldn’t find any meaningful dirt, either.

At a tumultuous meeting of anti-Vietnam War militants at the Chicago Coliseum in 1969, Bill Ayers helped found the radical Weathermen, launching a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and United States Capitol.

Twenty-six years later, at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper, Barack Obama met Mr. Ayers, by then an education professor. Their paths have crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr. Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors. […]

[T]he two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called “somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.”

I’m not even sure what the point of the article is; it simply reinforces what anyone who cares about facts already knows: the reports of Obama’s “close ties” to Ayers are absurd. I guess the Times invested a lot of energy into checking this out, so it ran the lengthy story anyway, despite the fact that there’s nothing new to report.

We can, of course, look forward to the Times’ 2,100-word piece on the Keating Five now, right? You know, just to help push the story back into the political discussion of the day?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.