News International executives briefed David Cameron on "what to say and how to say it" before he met Rupert Murdoch but he "refused to play ball", the Leveson Inquiry was told today.
The Conservative leader's strategy in the early days was to treat the Murdochs and their staff the same as everyone else, according to Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator.
He recounted being told by a News International executive that Mr Cameron had been briefed on what he should say and do to please Murdoch ahead of the pair's now infamously frosty first meeting.
The unnamed employee was staggered when Cameron "wouldn't play ball," Oborne told the inquiry into media ethics.
He added: "I thought good on him."
Oborne, the author of several books on politics and the media, also claimed Fleet Street operated a Mafia-style code of silence in the face of strong evidence of phone hacking.
The press had "looked the other way" repeatedly on major stories involving itself and the government of the day, he added.
"In the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, many British newspapers remained silent on the issue of complicity in torture, British complicity in torture," he said.
Oborne said there was a reluctance of one newspaper group to embarrass another and national newspapers adhered to a Mafia-style silence over hacking.
He said: "There was pretty well an omerta in Fleet Street surrounding the very strong evidence about phone hacking."
Oborne criticised the close relationship between political journalists and politicians, particularly at the most senior levels.
Political reporting had become a matter of private deals with journalists and politicians "entering into a conspiracy against the readers", he said.
He said the MPs expenses "scam" was going on for years but was deliberately ignored by a negligent media.
The News International annual party conference receptions were extraordinary power events attended by the entire cabinet, he said.
He added: "I saw again and again journalists and politicians entering into a conspiracy against the readers.
"People who tried to report objectively and fairly were frozen out, were bullied, victimised, not given information.
"People who were part of the inner circle and developed social connections with the powerful political people were favoured."