THESE ‘STORIES’ DON’T EXIST IN A VACUUM…. NBC News’ Chuck Todd seems amazed by the “controversy” surrounding President Obama encouraging kids to do well in school.

Finally, here’s one more thought about the entire controversy over Obama’s education speech on Tuesday: Since the White House has said the text of the speech will be available for 24 hours before he delivers it and since they altered the lesson plan language, why is this still a controversy?

The ability of the conservative media machine to generate a controversy for this White House is amazing. In fact, this is an example of a story that percolates where it becomes harder and harder for some to claim there’s some knee-jerk liberal media bias. (Does anyone remember these kinds of controversies in the summer of 2001?) The ability of some conservatives to create media firestorms is still much greater than liberals these days. How effective is the conservative media machine? Just ask Van Jones…

To a certain extent, I’m amazed by a lot of this, too. The outrage surrounding the president’s message is truly insane, and the right’s ability to manufacture “controversies” out of nothing is almost impressive, in a brain-numbing kind of way.

And while I don’t mean to pick on Chuck Todd — indeed, his point is to rebut the silly notion of a “liberal” media — I’d love to see him consider this in more depth. He realizes there’s no longer a genuine, newsworthy story here, and expresses amazement that the right can “create media firestorms” whenever they want. What’s more, Todd realizes the left can’t do the same thing.

But here’s the key: Chuck Todd and his colleagues help decide what does, and does not, become, a media firestorm. More to the point, the only “controversies” that gain traction are the ones Chuck Todd and his colleagues give attention to.

Todd’s post seems to argue, “Wow, can you believe people are talking about this crazy, nonsensical story that conservatives cooked up out of nothing?” It fails to acknowledge Chuck Todd’s role in helping promote the crazy, nonsensical stories that conservatives cook up out of nothing.

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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.