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Dean Minnich: Sources, at least, are predictable in 2014

Every year we news types like to spend a week looking back, after which we spend another week looking ahead. This is not so much because we know any more than you do, but rather because nothing's happening at the moment.

Our job is to report the news, and during the holidays, news sources are scarce. You have your house fires and car accidents and shootings, but that's not the stuff of good political discourse, which is what we like to write and report most.

Police and fire news is, well, just news, but it's about what happens to people. Political news, for the most part, is about people causing things to happen - or keeping them from happening.

The police and fire blotter is like the traffic report and the weather: acts of human or Mother Nature. Politics, on the other hand, is often at least bordering on the unnatural.

You can check on the traffic and weather by venturing out on the road or looking out the window. With politics, you can watch television all day and still not have any idea what the facts are.

But I've reached the point where I can take a look at who is being interviewed for what news show and tell what they will say. In fact, I can look at the TV listings and tell you how one news network or another will present the news of the day. I can even predict, with accuracy, the conclusion the news anchors will leave with viewers, with the exception of the reporters on public television and radio.

As a case in point, the recent flap about the "selfie" photo taken during the ceremonies for the late Nelson Mandela was presented by Fox News as a disgusting display of narcissism and inappropriate behavior for a funeral ceremony on the part of President Obama. That's what I expect of Fox News and some others.

The Huffington Post and MSNBC, on the other hand, produced the photographer who submitted the photo, who wrote that such negative reports were inaccurate. He said the mood in the stadium was happy, with people singing and dancing and celebrating the life of Mandela, according to their custom. Moreover, Michelle Obama moved out of the picture a split second before the picture most of us saw and had been sharing the light moment with everyone involved.

All of which will mean nothing, of course, to those who choose to believe the negative depiction of Obama, any more than those who chose to demonize George Bush would acknowledge that he was and is a decent human being.

We choose to seek out the news that reflects our opinions. News people come in two packages - those who feed the biases, and those who love to poke holes in assumptions.

So I have no clue as to what 2014 has in store, except to say that if you tell me the issue, I can probably predict how it will be spun.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that both the White House and critics of President Obama were off-target about the facts surrounding that fire bombing of the Benghazi consulate. One thing that was certain, however, was that no evidence exists to show that al-Qaida was involved, which is what Congressman Daniel Issa, R-Calif., and others over there have maintained.

The Times investigation is closer to the official administration version of the incident, that Rep. Issa is undeterred in his insistence that this is all a cover-up by liberal apologists for Obama.

But then, no surprise there. Issa ran on a platform of undermining, sabotaging and resisting anything and anyone associated with President Obama. He won't be confused by facts, which is what simplistic absolutists love about him, and which make his sound bites easy to predict.

Sometimes, watching politics is like watching train wrecks. Once you know that, you can move on and have sort of a happy new year.

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