OBAMA STILL OPPOSES FAIRNESS DOCTRINE…. One would like to think a development like this one would put the matter to rest.

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine — a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

“As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

Alex Koppelman asks the right question: “Can we stop talking about the Fairness Doctrine now?” The answer is, “I’m afraid not.”

For one thing, the conservatives terrified of the non-existent campaign to bring the Fairness Doctrine back aren’t persuaded by today’s statement. Isn’t it possible that Obama’s consistent, principled opposition to the policy is really just an elaborate ruse, intended to obscure his secret support for the policy? The president might spring the policy on them when they least expect it.

For another, the embarrassing right-wing paranoia will just adapt and manufacture new angles to the old story. The American Spectator, for example, claims that it spoke to a staffer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who said Democrats not only want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, but also want to extend it to the Internet.

“It’s all about diversity in media,” the Spectator quoted the committee staffer as saying. “Does one radio station or one station group control four of the five most powerful outlets in one community? … Does one heavily trafficked Internet site present one side of an issue and not link to sites that present alternative views?”

Now, the notion that Democrats actually want to do this is obviously silly. The notion that a Democratic staffer who works with Henry Waxman would share an imaginary, nefarious scheme with the right-wing American Spectator is even sillier.

But it’s a reminder that Fairness Doctrine hysteria isn’t about what’s real; it’s about what keeps conservatives excited.

Steve Benen

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.