Still sounds very familiar.
During the Napoleonic Wars, newspapers were allowed to read and reprint naval and military dispatches in return for carrying ‘paragraphs agreeable to the Ministry’. Today, as Norton-Taylor reminds us, Whitehall departments still run their own gentlemanly lobbies in which selected hacks are allowed to see confidential papers and hear civil servants’ unexpurgated thoughts on policy, but only so long as the journalists ‘play by the rules’ and write only what their host-official permits. The lobby system, with the Number Ten lobby at its apex, smoothly controls and shapes the outflow of official information to the public. Opposition leaders are frequently gagged by briefings given on Privy Council terms.
Neal Ascherson · Secrets are like sex: Whitehall Spookery · LRB 21 March 2020