"It was as if an occult hand" is a splendidly Gothic phrase, and also a journalistic in-joke. For decades some reporters have made a game of sneaking those words into non-Gothically-inclined stories.
Wikipedia has some examples:
"Wonders if Cyprus events might have been 'organized by some occult hand' as part of W Eur global strategy."
"Even worse, with some E-mail systems, if the writer doesn't fill in the subject line, the occult hand of artificial intelligence will enter No Subject."
"It was as if an occult hand had somehow palmed the film."
"It was as if an occult hand had passed over Nick Mancuso's face, momentarily transforming him into Tennessee Williams."
"...one might say it was as if an occult hand had hurled a raspberry at Hollywood."
"He said it is as if an occult hand had arbitrarily determined which..."
"...Saturday, it was as if an occult hand had passed over the Academy Awards..."
Apparently the secret group has stopped tracking uses. But, tantalizingly:
In 2006, Greenberg announced that the Order had chosen a new secret phrase at an annual editorial writers' convention and resumed a stealth operation.
(thanks to jason kielbasa; photo by The Italian Voice)