I hope that the paraphrased quote of, “Good Night and Good Luck,” the signoff by the renowned Edward R. Murrow, who was the only journalist to openly oppose the commie scare by Sen. McCarthy in the 50s, is recognized by the news media. The media of today, especially the local news media, the young and laughing personalities of the 5:00 PM news seem to be totally oblivious to important HOA bills before state legislatures. Bills that would affect some 20% of the people in across the country.
Why? It seems that they prefer to see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil about HOAs. Or is it really corporate media making the call?
Murrow, upon leaving the CBS network in 1953 had this to say about the TV news media.
Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now . . . they will there find . . . evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time.
We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this.
Are the big corporations who pay the freight for radio and television programs wise to use that time exclusively for the sale of goods and services? Is it in their own interest and that of the stockholders so to do?
Since this statement was made, the news has become highly editorialized and selective, geared to entertain. It appears that providing important matters of civic concern affecting their private property and community to their viewers is a secondary concern, and only such information as the media moguls deem to be appropriate. (For a brief history of Arizona’s HOA news coverage, see Arizona HOA News History).
There have been no in-depth analyses or debates of the HOA legal concept even at the national level, as the spread of HOA-Land is nationwide. The Sunday news talk shows, or by 20-20 and Dateline, are silent. There have been no discussions on whether HOAs, as de facto governments, should by made a government entity. Or whether state legislatures should continue to allow equitable servitude law to supersede contract and constitutional law. Or the lack of debate on the absence of “truth in HOAs” disclosures, similar to truth in lending and truth in advertising.
Or what is the legitimate government interest to allow private governments to deny the equal application of the laws. Or to allow constructive notice – just take your deed — to bind unsuspecting home buyers to the CC&Rs sight unseen. Apparently there is no need to inform buyers at closing of the great leap that they are taking into the unknown.
Doesn’t the news media understand, haven’t they been taught in journalism 101, that silence carries an acceptance of conditions and events. With no opposing views, what do they think their viewers will accept and believe. Obviously, “No news is good news.” And this silence has helped generate the national groupthink that “HOAs are the next best thing to Mom’s apple pie.” This silence helps generate an inbreeding, a closed group without outside reality testing for verification. (See the seminal work by Irving Janis, Victims of Groupthink, 1972).
Here’s what the activist group, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), has to say about groupthink (my emphasis).
A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making. Groupthink occurs when groups are highly cohesive and when they are under considerable pressure . . . . When pressures for unanimity seem overwhelming, members are less motivated to realistically appraise the alternative courses of action available to them. These group pressures lead to carelessness and irrational thinking since groups experiencing groupthink fail to consider all alternatives and seek to maintain unanimity. Decisions shaped by groupthink have low probability of achieving successful outcomes.
And PsySR finds fault with the media for failing to inform its viewers about the alternative views of others.
Knowledge is power and we as citizens and as a nation are becoming less powerful. The American press, especially the television news media, has let down the American people and the American people have allowed this to happen. US television news is geared more toward providing entertainment than information.
We can now answer why this silence, why this unspoken alliance of no negatives about HOAs. The history of the media’s role with respect to substantive issues on HOA constitutionality, and other legalities, has gone through four stages: 1) repeat what the special interests have to say, 2) allow advocates to speak out in opposition, 3) report only favorable stories, and 4) withdrawal from the controversy. (See Arizona HOA News History).
The reason for this withdrawal by the media can be found in their realization that the HOA legal concept cannot be defended without renouncing the US Constitution and our system of democratic government. In short, any such attempt would be Defending the Indefensible. So, silence is the only option if one truly believes, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, that HOAs are better than Mom’s apple pie.
With that I say, “Good night and good luck.” Those of you living in HOAs surely need lots of it.