I still enjoy reading AC but I agree that some of the articles are getting pretty far afield from rides "normal" people can even think of doing. I further agree with your take on O'Grady's bike reviews. His definition of "Touring Bike" seems to be rather wide and includes some pretty unsuited bikes. How can you recommend a touring bike that has a 52x11 high gear and a 39x25 low gear?
So, should the benchmark of what tour reports go into Adventure Cyclist be whether or not a "normal" person can do it? And how would we define normal?
I look at Adventure Cyclist the same way I look at some other bike adventure mags: some of the stuff I could or would want to do, some of it I couldn't or wouldn't. But that's not the point. I think the key thing is whether the report is interesting and compelling, and there's a healthy mix of bike touring stories, and all types of bike touring. ACA is a broad organization and there will be things in the publication I can't get into (like the fully supported tours I mentioned above). But I'm okay with that.
As for the touring bike reviews, I guess if you define a touring bike as basically a road bike with beefier tubing, relaxed angles, mountain bike gearing, and lots of ways to hang racks and bits for a four pannier setup, then yeah, I guess many of the bikes recently reviewed in Adventure Cyclist don't fit that definition. But the definition of bike touring is becoming more elastic, and a lot of it now is about doing it with a bike that can tour, not necessarily with a "touring bike". Then there's the whole bikepacking thing which is definitely not a traditional touring bike. And I think a lot of folks are interested in seeing these different approaches, not just another iteration of a 520/LHT/Randonee/etc.
As for gearing, some bike companies are putting some pretty high gearing on what would be considered a traditional touring bike. For example, when MEC (the Canadian equivalent to REI) introduced their touring bike, the National, it came with a 50-40-30 in the front. They've since changed it to a more reasonable 48-36-26, though, but probably after a bit of grumbling.