Tarbell will reveal who runs America, in Philadelphia’s backyard.

Tarbell will reveal who runs America, in Philadelphia’s backyard.

The refrain that politics are “broken” or “rigged” has become almost cliche, with nearly everyone believing it but no one identifying what is broken or who broke it. Tarbell, a new media outlet based right here in Philadelphia, is on a mission to show you what exactly is rigged and who is doing the rigging.


Tarbell.org was launched in November, and is named after Ida Tarbell, the woman who founded investigative journalism. Wendell Potter founded Tarbell to give Americans a voice in a political debate dominated by special interests. Tarbell focuses on exposing the nexus of corruption between America’s biggest business and our politicians.

From his calm, friendly and mild demeanor, you would never guess that a few years ago, Potter gave up his high paying corporate job at Cigna to become a very public whistleblower. He was ashamed of the messages he was pushing as a VP at Cigna, and Tarbell is his shot at redemption.  Tarbell is also a homecoming for the native Philadelphian, and he is proud to be adding to the media network here.

We are fortunate to have him, and Tarbell, here in Philadelphia as well.  After all, in a city where the terms politician and corrupt are often synonymous, we are in need of strong antiseptics.

I sat down with Wendell Potter a few months ago to learn more about Tarbell and its mission.

Q: What role does Philadelphia play in your personal story?

A: In 2008, I left Cigna. When I left, I thought about going to Washington DC, where I met my wife. I also grew up in Tennessee. But Philadelphia is such a livable city with a lot of exciting things going on. It is a historic city with vibracy and growth. People in Philadelphia seem to recognize what the problems are, and they are trying to make a difference. Other cities seem like they do not have the personality in a sense of place. I keep falling in love with Philadelphia.

Q: Why is Tarbell based in Philadelphia?

A: It is purposely based here. I have lived and worked in Washington, DC as a lobbyist, and I have spent time in New York City. I think it is important for Tarbell to not be drawn into the media of either of those two cities. Because of this, we can see the country and our opportunities differently. We will cover other issues than those 2 cities. They are so much a a part of the way things are that sometimes they don’t help; their news is often not substantive. We need solutionative journalism. People, especially young people, want to know how can things be fixed.

Q: What exactly makes Tarbell’s journalism so different?

A: Let’s de-rig the system. We are not part of the typical media system. We are independent and plan to remain that way. There is no advertising, no sponsorships. Integrity is paramount. We will only be owned by our community donors. So far, we have received donations from all 50 states. That is huge, because it means we can serve the needs of the whole country. We want to worked with journalists and freelance writers from all over the country, not just the metropolitan areas.

Q: What role do you see PSG playing in the future of politics/civics?

A: I think it plays a huge role. I am encouraged by Philly Set Go. PSG is an organization that everyone can see as a place they really belong, and Tarbell wants to let all of those people know how they can make a difference. It is people working together. We eventually want to write about Philadelphia, specifically -- the City’s struggles and the success -- the importance of registering to vote where you actually reside, wage tax.

Tarbell is not a publication promoting gossip about politicians and their personal lives. Tarbell will focus on the control of corporations and special interests. Tarbell will show you how everyone is affected by the actions of corporations, but even more important, it will provide the solutions to change the way special interests sway our everyday lives. Tarbell will empower readers to change the status quo. Read their first two stories here

Do you see the difference in this publication yet? Tarbell is nonprofit, reader-funded, and Independent. Need more proof? THEY DO NOT ACCEPT ADVERTISING. Take a look at their board of directors, or submit a topic you want their journalists to cover here.

Tarbell doesn’t just have Philly Set Go’s support, they have collected donations from all 50 states. Philly Set Go could not be more excited or proud to have this publication as another “Philadelphia’s First”.


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