This writing addresses the failure of the Arizona media, and in general all news media across this country, to report in-depth on HOA legal developments. In particular, as an example, its failure to cover the Arizona Supreme Court Petition for Review, Tarter v. Bendt (denied).
It was a defamation case brought by an HOA president dealing with matters of HOA governance. It resulted in a shocking $1,500,000 in damages against a homeowner who criticized the President. The homeowner raised the issue of the HOA president as a “limited-purpose public figure.” An amicus brief informed the Justices on the larger picture of protected speech in the recognized HOA public forum on matters of HOA governance.
If it were not an HOA case, it surely would have made widespread news.
Most of you probably ever heard of Edward R. Murrow (1940s-60s) newscaster that, the Radio Television Digital News Association has annually awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award to individuals who make outstanding achievements in electronic journalism. Award recipients have included Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel, Bryant Gumbel, Brian Williams, Katie Couric, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw.
Here are memorable quotes quite meaningful for today’s media who have been silent on reporting HOA reality news.
“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.
“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”
In 2017 I posted a Commentary that focused on the failure of today’s media to uphold its obligation under the 1st Amendment to inform the people. This protected freedom of speech was granted for the above important purpose, a purpose that the media seemed to have forgotten.
“The media of today, especially the local news media . . . seem to be oblivious to important HOA bills before state legislatures. Bills that would affect some 20% [now estimated to be 24% or more] of the people across the country.
“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
But the media, with respect to HOA-Land, was silent and did not acknowledge its justification for its silence. For more information, see my 2017 Commentary at Good night and very good luck – the unspoken media HOA alliance and Can HOA members expect justice in Arizona courts?
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Relevant to this Commentary, Maria Ressa (Filipino-American) just won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021. The Nobel Committee announcement spoke to the role of journalism and its affect on democracy.
“Ms. Ressa and Rappler [her internet news site] have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse. . . . The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public,”
She is also author of How to Stand Up to a Dictator, a story of “how democracy dies by a thousand cuts” (to be released in July 2022).