The irony of Ron Paul’s new problem is that he’s wanted the media to start taking his candidacy seriously for quite a while, but reporters have treated him like a joke and a sideshow. Now that news outlets are taking him seriously and asking about his record, the Texas congressman seems thoroughly annoyed.

As you’ve probably heard, Paul published political newsletters for several years in the 1990s, called the “Ron Paul Survival Report,” many of which included racist, homophobic, and anti-Israeli propaganda. The most offensive content from Paul’s publications didn’t come with a byline, and the congressman later claimed to be unaware of the bigotry in his own newsletters.

When the political establishment considered Paul a meaningless afterthought, the media didn’t pay too much attention to this. Now that the Texan stands a reasonably good chance of winning the Iowa caucuses, reporters are starting to press Paul for some answers. And wouldn’t you know it, the congressman finds this terribly irritating.

CNN’s Gloria Borger pressed Paul on the issue yesterday. Paul said he read his own publication “on occasion,” but referencing the bigoted columns, he added, “I didn’t write them. I disavow them. That’s it.”

BORGER: But there are reports that you made almost a million dollars off of them in — in 1993.

PAUL: No. Who — I’d like to share — see that money.

BORGER: So you read them, but you didn’t do anything about it at the time?

PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never — I’ve never read it. I came — I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written. And it’s been going on 20 years, that people have pestered me about this. And CNN does it every single time.

When Borger noted that some of the racist content he published was “pretty incendiary,” Paul snapped backed, “That’s because of people like you.” (I’m not sure what that’s even supposed to mean.)

A moment later , Paul took off his microphone and ended the interview.

I can appreciate why Paul finds scrutiny inconvenient. I can even understand why this seems unusual for him, because he’s accustomed to simply being able to spout off on any subject he wants, appealing to like-minded fans, and not having to deal with reporters asking pesky questions about his record.

But Paul can’t have it both ways. If he wants the media to start treating him like a real presidential candidate, it’s time he realizes that real presidential candidates get asked questions like these. It’s also time the congressman start offering some additional information about this controversy, including whether he knows who wrote the offensive content and whether those people still have a role in his operation.

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.