Potter, who first hit our radar in an eye-opening Q&A in the Columbia Journalism Review in June, is viewed by many as an altruistic force of ethical awakening. He says he didn't want to be part of another healthcare industry "reform" effort that would benefit insurers at the expense of the public so he quit Cigna.
He's implied that reporters are not fulfilling their duties in covering the insurance industry and claimed that he routinely left out key information in working with the press. Asked how PR people can influence coverage, he said:
Over the years I developed relationships with key reporters. When you do that, you are in a much better position to influence the tone and content of stories reporters write, or at least be sure that your companyís key messages are included. Itís similar to the way special interests woo members of Congress. Itís not just money; itís relationships.
So, viewed through the lens of the PR industry, is Potter a hero or a turncoat? Even though PR doesn't abide by a privilege akin to the legal field, his work at Cigna was that of an employee paid to advocate for his employer. He quit and is using the information he retained as a company insider against his former "client."
On the other hand, he is shedding light on how one insurance company (and likely others) approach PR, the media and government.