SanDiegoFreelance - 3:24 am on May 10, 2011 (gmt 0)
I believe the spin would be a Logical Fallacy - affirming the consequent. If the content google used to determine the page is relevant is plainly seen by the visitor then it would not be considered Cloaking - if the html shown to google is not the html shown to people it is cloaking.
... I would add that Google apparently also wants this content to be near the top of the page and not obscured by ads but the beats a different drum called Panda ...
Google looks bad when the content seen by the visitors does not match what the visitor expected. Google does not like it when web masters make them look bad.
Now if there is additional content that people can see but bots can not ... IE flash, images, ajax ... these are not cloaking; But if it makes google look bad they will come up with a penalty.
Google does not care about being fair they care about looking good. If SEOs help Google to look good they like SEOs. If SEOs make Google look bad they know how to deal with us. Fault is irrelevant when they have a billion pages to pick from.
Can Google see the material? Is a different and very interesting question. My research seems to indicate that if content is shown in the first few seconds by script Google sees it. An ajax picking up another file and embedding it is something I've not specifically attempted to test. I would assume the space to be seen by Panda as empty and assume Panda does not attempt to determine what goes into it.