To quote that noted philosopher Carole King, she hit me and it felt like a kiss. Things are so bad inside the News Ltd Surry Hills bunker that the Oz ‘s op-ed pages are being used for close combat fighting against the barbarians.

In this morning’s edition Planet Janet Albrechtsen warns of the danger of a totalitarian left, to a certain degree represented by the article I wrote in Monday’s edition of this august publication, which both wondered whether Rupert (or James I suppose) would order a clean out of the News Ltd stable in the brave new Era of Decency – and also suggested that this would be a pretty good idea.

The Queen of Mean’s article is done in the usual paranoid political style which will be wearyingly familiar to Crikey’s readers, but since I’m not holding my breath waiting for Heidi Switzer to allow a right of reply, and since Albrechtsen didn’t deign to reply here, the debate will have to remain bifurcated.

The essence of Albrechtsen’s charge, after a bizarre excursion into Animal Farm is done with, is that to suggest that The Oz needs to rotate its tyres, op-ed wise, is tantamount to calling for a purge of conservatives.

But I did no such thing. In the original article I noted:

Albrechtsen used to be interesting to read because she was obviously influencing the government. Who’s going to read this mad maven now, banging on about judicial activism, and fiendish feminists?

What you need in these times is one such contrarian columnist, not eight, with the rest talking closer to where people actually are. If Switzer and Mitchell don’t clean house, someone will.

So no, I wasn’t suggesting eliminating conservatives – simply getting more interesting ones. The problem with Albrechtsen is that she’s ludicrous, and, now boring through repetition. Indeed much of News Ltd’s obsessions proved irrelevant to most Australians, and were always pretty much projective fantasy in any case. Take Planet’s first column out after The Nov 24 Glorious Restoration, on the possibility of a bill of rights. There’s good arguments for and against bills of rights (and I incline to the latter position) but Albrechtsen’s manner is simply to – and sing along if you know it – bang on about the “rights industry”, activist judges etc etc.

It’s tiresome and irrelevant to the vexed question of how we frame laws, to keep kicking that battered can. The same topics and the same arguments, the same sub-Coulteresque rhetoric going round and round – quite possibly because Albrechtsen has nothing much more to say, and no great intellectual curiosity. Ditto with the Akermans, Bolts, Blairs etc – they’ve seen themselves as shock troops, and the surge failed.

Does Albrechtsen genuinely believe that suggesting a privately owned media company should dump a columnist to create a better product is totalitarian in impulse? If so she has a pretty inflated idea of her own importance to democratic debate. Alternatively, it’s just rhetoric, which would suggest she hasn’t understood how over all that stuff is.

As the only national broadsheet, The Australian has the opportunity to have a great pluralist op-ed section, and an unbiased news section. It won’t take that step because its principals lack the courage to have their own ideas challenged on home turf.

Well since we’re all essentially running a book on Rupert’s Whims, it will be interesting to see what happens. Planet’s reference to Animal Farm is perhaps a little as they say, overdetermined – if anything runs in a Stalin-lite style, it’s News, where whole teams can be despatched with nary a word when they’ve outlived their usefulness. Milne and Overington can always earn a living doing curtain raiser bouts for Tarik Solak kickboxing events – what are the rest good for?

And consider this – one of Albrechtsen’s arguments for the pluralist nature of the place is that I have been published in The Australian’s Literary Review (which is co-produced with Melbourne Uni Press and part-funded by the Oz Council) even though I have – gasp – criticised the paper’s editor.

And what better expression of a totalitarian mindset than to see that as a praiseworthy virtue rather than simply a matter of course?