THE NBPP ‘STORY’ — CODA…. Wait, you mean the right hyperventilated about a pointless story for years, and the whole trumped up controversy was completely baseless? Actually, yes, that’s exactly what happened.

Yesterday, the Justice Department released the long-awaited results of its inquiry into its own handling of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, and the verdict is in: This whole tale has been complete nonsense from the very beginning. The right has been obsessing over this case for years, insisting that Justice’s decision to dismiss the case against three of four defendants accused of voter intimidation at a Philadelphia polling station in 2008 proves that the Obama administration is riddled with anti-white racists.

It should come as a shock to no one that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has “found no evidence that the decision to dismiss the case against three of the four defendants was predicated on political considerations” or that there was “improper political interference or influence from within or outside the Department in connection with the decision in the case.” As Ryan J. Reilly reports, this comes after OPR interviewed numerous staffers and sifted through “thousands of pages of internal Department e-mails, memoranda, and notes.”

To sum up: The Black Panther tale — a years-long journey into the fevered right-wing imagination that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and led to no shortage of scurrilous accusations of racism against the first black president and attorney general — was a colossal waste of time and taxpayer resources.

Remember, folks like Fox News’ Megyn Kelly practically committed her legitimacy as a media professional to the seriousness of this story. Can we assume she’ll be equally assiduous when it comes to explaining to viewers that she spent years chasing a story that didn’t exist?

Indeed, even real news organizations should feel pretty silly this week. Simon Maloy noted that the Washington Post ran at least 20 articles and opinion pieces that referenced this “controversy” just last year, “including a 2,600-word front-page piece detailing the case and the allegations of J. Christian Adams, the bogus story’s chief agitator.”

The fact that the story has been proven baseless, again, received 350 words on page A4 today.

Well, at least congressional Republicans who took this seriously will finally realize this was a colossal waste of time, right? No, I’m afraid that’s not quite the case either: Conservatives, including Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), “are showing no signs they’ll let the issue drop.”

Why let reality and definite evidence stand in the way of a perfectly dumb story?

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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.