The death of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of HOA-Land media bias

Those of you who have followed me for some time will have run across my criticism of the media[1]  for failing to honor the trust placed in it by the First Amendment to the Constitution — free speech.

“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . ..”

What’s this Fairness Doctrine, you may ask?

For over 30 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) required broadcast licensees (TV and radio) to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was fair and balanced. This requirement came to be known as the “Fairness Doctrine.”[2]

The FCC believed that broadcast licenses (required for both radio and terrestrial TV stations) were a form of public trust and, as such, licensees should provide balanced and fair coverage of controversial issues . . .. The “public interest” justification for the fairness doctrine is outlined in Section 315 of the Communications Act of 1937 (amended in 1959).[3]

In “What Is The Fairness Doctrine?”, author Gill quotes the Court in Red Lion v. FCC,[4]

It is the right of the public to receive suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral and other ideas and experiences which is crucial here. That right may not constitutionally be abridged either by Congress or by the FCC.

The death of Fairness

Subsequent to the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Red Lion, things turned down for equal opportunity to reply.  Further court rulings and the resultant FCC dismissal of the Doctrine sealed its application. President Reagan, in an astounding rejection of free speech for the advancement of public issues as a necessity for a democracy to properly function, vetoed legislation with the following justification:

“This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Reagan said in his veto message. In any other medium besides broadcasting, such federal policing of the editorial judgment of journalists would be unthinkable.[5]

Understanding that Reagan was in the entertainment and media business, no wonder he turned the First Amendment on its head.  He tossed out the intent and purposes of the Founding Fathers who saw the necessity of open dialogue in a healthy democracy. By his veto he allowed business interests to redefine the compelling government interest set forth by the Founding Fathers to protect the Constitution.

The court rulings and the FCC reaction faced with the above reality, can be summarized by the 1989 DC District Court ruling (final ruling in Syracuse Peace Council v FCC) holding,

On the basis of the voluminous factual record compiled in this proceeding, our experience in administering the doctrine and our general expertise in broadcast regulation, we no longer believe that the fairness doctrine, as a matter of policy, serves the public interest …[6]


In summary, no longer must the media honor the original trust given to it under the First Amendment.  It no longer needs to present both sides of the story for an informed electorate, an informed public.  It can, as profusely evident, present its own view of the “facts” as we witness conservative vs liberal, Democrat vs. Republican, the rich vs the middle class, white vs black, etc., etc.  As one media guest put it, America has become tribal with one faction opposing another faction.

And these attacks upon our American system of democratic government have trickled down to HOA-Land where they have been adopted by the media, undoubtedly influenced by the special interest promotors of HOA-Land.  And so, the public, the readers and viewers of HOA “news,” get half-truths that do not serve the fundamental requirement of a democracy to inform the public.



[1] See in general, HOA-Land success aided by the failure of investigative reporting (2017)  Arizona Republic: A new low in media ethics and a violation of the public trust.’ (2007); Continued national HOA problems and the failure of the media; (2007).

[2]Fairness Doctrine: History and Constitutional Issues,” Kathleen Ann Ruane, Congressional Research Service, 7-5700, p. 1, July 13, 2011.

[3]What Is The Fairness Doctrine?”, Kathy Gill, ThoughtCo., May 23, 2017.

[4] Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission, 395 U.S. 367 (1969).

[5]Reagan’s Veto Kills Fairness Doctrine Bill,” Penny Pagano, L. A. Times, June 21, 1987.

[6] Supra, n. 3.

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"The Voice for HOA Constitutionality". I have been a long-term homeowner rights authority, advocate and author of "The HOA-Land Nation Within America" (2019) and" Establishing the New America of independent HOA principalities" (2008). See HOA Constitutional Government at My efforts with HOAs took me to a broader concern that was deeply affecting the constituionality of HOAs. Those broad societal and plotical concerns caused me to start this new blog for my commentaries on the State of the New America.

5 thoughts on “The death of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of HOA-Land media bias”

  1. This morning I managed to catch a local Phoenix NBC News (KPNX, Ch. 12) promotion of its news coverage, that the evening news anchors, Curtis and Devine, tell the truth and can be trusted. Yeah! Right! HOAs are off limits, but they don’t tell their viewers that truth.

  2. It all comes down to the advertising money. Traditional print media – now increasingly online – still relies, in part, on local real estate advertising to fund their operation. TV and cable news channels still run ads for home builders that cater to active adult “sushi eaters.” Then there are many online PR media and subscription-only publishers that appear to be providing news, but they are really publishing promotional material, insider information, and propaganda. This junk gets picked up by some mainstream media outlets looking for prewritten content.

    And the moguls that fund major media giants just so happen to have connections in the real estate and finance industry. Wouldn’t want to offend any of them.

  3. Completely agree with your assessment of the media and HOA issues. It appears that the CAI keeps the media in check. I am hoping the Goldwater Institute will be publishing a story about my HOA debacle and my false arrest and jail time in Scottsdale in a few weeks. I will let you know if I can trust Mark Flatten to tell of my horrible experience with the Venetian HOA and how they got away with fraud and embezzlement along with their lawyers Francis Slavin and Clint Goodman. These board members were removed but they stole in excess of $80K and then claimed that there was a robbery in the club house and all financial records were stolen. This goes back to 2012 but it is an example of what four corrupt board members can do with the power they usurp when they become board members. The four should be put in jail for their crimes against me and the community but I do not have the funds to hire a lawyer to press charges. I have all evidence and records but now that I was forced to move from the community and lost $65 K in my short sale, I can only rely on a good journalist to share my story. HOA can be very distructive if the wrong people become board members. With no oversight or laws to keep them in check more stories will surface and do daily. The media could help but they do not want to get their hands dirty. Hats off to the Kansas city reporter that blew the whistle last year. We need that kind of reporter her in AZ. I have spoken at length to Jessica Boehm from the AZ Republic but I think her editors have restricted her right of free press.

  4. If the media wants to be trusted, they need to be fair to the readers and report the truth. Honesty is the best policy.

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