HOAs and the media: Bill Moyers on the failure of the media to present all sides


Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent, and enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it.   Bill Moyers*



With respect to homeowner association issues and the lack of coverage of the substantive constitutional issues — the lack of due process, the imposition of a contract under claims of highly questionable voluntary consent, the unequal protection of the laws, and the overwhelming evidence of HOAs as state actors under current US Supreme Court tests, just to name a few — is not only avoided, but resisted by the established media.  Rather, isolated HOA stories, cast in terms of personal issues, are repeated across the country, more and more, without any coverage of the broader political, social and legal implications of these events.  Why is there this neglect of these serious substantive issues when HOA regimes privately govern some 20% of the population?  (Data according to Community Associations Institute, CAI, and US Census Bureau.)


To what extent has this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” reporting by the media influenced the public interest firms like The Goldwater Institute with its opposition to Arizona HOA reform legislation, SB 1162, based on the simple statement of “contract interference”?  Two Arizona attorneys, who fight for homeowners and who have attended several legislative committees on behalf of reforms, have criticized the Institute as not aware of the reality of the HOA legal scheme; and that the awareness of this reality would call for the defense of, and not opposition to, the liberty of the individual homeowner against an imposed contract.  The Institute’s cry of “contract interference” and “voluntary consent” echoed the propaganda claims of the pro-HOA lobbyists as found in the media.



*Excerpts of Bill Moyers’ address to the National Media Reform Conference 2008, June 7, 2008. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y0r71L7cojE.



And yet the press remains in denial in its role of passing on the unverified claims as facts, while . . . blocking out any other narrative.  That’s the great danger.  It’s not that they dominate the story that we tell ourselves in publicly everyday, it’s that they don’t allow any alternative, competing narrative to emerge, by which the people could measure the veracity of ALL the claims.


When the state becomes the guardian to the power and privilege to the neglect of justice, to the neglect of the people who have neither power or privilege, you can no longer claim to have a representative government.



I would like to congratulate the VP and Publisher, Ginger Lamb, and Managing Editor, Matt Bunk, of The Arizona Capitol Times for their courage to remain a free press and to print both sides of this story. The Capitol Times is the sole Arizona media company to standby and uphold the media’s obligations for the proper functioning of our democratic system of government. 


This only happened once before in my eight years of homeowner rights advocacy, and that was in 2006 by CBS affiliate, KPHO-TV, with its reporter, Greg Mocker, with his hard questioning of the actions of legislative leaders opposing HOA due process reforms.  That reform bill did pass in 2006, and is once again the subject of due process issue of this bill, SB1162. A bill seeking to bring justice for homeowners by leveling the litigation playing field resulting from abuse of the system by HOA attorneys.  A concern for over 1 million people living in HOAs in Arizona.





Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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