Pictionary McArdle, Girl Detective
Meeegan McArdle has pulled her magnifying glass and bubble pipe out of the toy chest, and is ready to assume the mantle of the World's Greatest Consulting Defective. As Sherlock Holmes didn't say, "Once you elminate the impossible, there is no explanation for Megan McArdle's continued employment."
McArdle has volunteered her services for the Case of the Astroturfer's Fake Astroturf. The details aren't important -- to anyone -- so let's cut to the drawing room, where McArdle has assembled the 20 million most likely suspects:
For me, this leaves the most fascinating question of all: who wrote it? We have a few clues:
(Don't flatter yourself.)
1) They are on the west coast
(Given the nonexistence of e-mail and other means to transmit documents electronically.)
2) They own or have access to an Epson scanner--though God knows, this could be at a Kinkos.
(And they time traveled from 2007, when last there was a Kinko's.)
3) They probably themselves have a somewhat run-on writing style
4) I'm guessing they use the word "high-profile" a fair amount.
(I also suspect they know that "high" and "profile" are two words.)
5) They are bizarrely obsessed with global warming coverage at Forbes, which suggests to me that there is a good chance that they write or comment on the website, or that they have tangled with writers at Forbes (probably Taylor) either in public or private.
(Or maybe "they" were bizarrely obsessed with Forbes' Egg magazine, and its measurement of the amount of piss on the floors of Manhattan nightclub restrooms.)
6) The last paragraph is the biggest departure from the source documents, and is therefore likely to be closest to the author's own style.
(While Meeegan's departure from the plural, "they," to refer to a singular "the author" is closest to her own illiterate style.)
7) I have a strong suspicion that they refrained from commenting on the document dump. That's what I'd do, anyway. A commenter or email correspondent who suddenly disappeared when they normally would have been reveling in this sort of story is a good candidate.
("Or I'd use reverse-reverse psychology, knowing that they would think that I'd think that they wouldn't comment on it....but that's what they'd want me to think, I think. Detecting is hard!)
8) They seem to have it in for Andy Revkin at the New York Times. There's nothing in the other documents to indicate that Heartland thinks Revkin is amenable to being . . . turned? I'm not sure what the right word is (as usual, but the implication in the strategy memo that Heartland believes it could somehow develop a relationship with Revkin seems aimed at discrediting Revkin's work.
Okay, Nancy Drew, thanks for playing Clue Jr.! I think I hear your mother calling.