Michael Gallagher (journalist)
Michael Gallagher (born c. 1958) was an investigative journalist for Gannett News Service. He joined the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1995, and reported and wrote an award-winning series the next year about problems with the cleanup of a uranium-processing plant.
On May 3, 1998, The Enquirer published an article, "Chiquita SECRETS Revealed" , the Cincinnati-based fruit company formerly known as the United Fruit Company and then controlled by Carl Lindner. The articles, written by Gallagher and Cameron McWhirter, charged the company with mistreating the workers on its Central American plantations, polluting the environment, allowing cocaine to be brought to America on its ships, bribing foreign officials, evading foreign nations' laws on land ownership, forcibly preventing its workers from unionizing, and a host of other misdeeds. Chiquita denied all of the allegations, suing after it was revealed that one of the newspaper's reporters had hacked into Chiquita's voice-mail system. A special prosecutor was appointed to investigate; the elected district attorney having accepted contributions from Lindner. On June 28, 1998, The Enquirer retracted the entire series of stories and published a front-page apology in which it announced that it had found Gallagher had lied about obtaining the voicemails from a Chiquita executive. It also paid the company a multi-million dollar settlement. (The Columbia Journalism Review would report both $14 million and $50 million for the amount.)
Gallagher had been fired two days earlier, and later that fall pleaded guilty to criminal charges of unlawfully tapping into Chiquita's voicemail. Editor Lawrence Beaupre was transferred to Gannett headquarters for not following the paper's fact-checking procedures. While Chiquita has never formally challenged any of the claims raised by Gallagher's articles, it reportedly persuaded the Securities and Exchange Commission to stop an investigation into the company's practices sparked by the investigation.
In an article examining the Chiquita series, Salon.com said the "Chiquita Secrets Revealed" series "presents a damning, carefully documented array of charges, most of them 'untainted' by those purloined executive voice mails."