“Mistakes were made” is an expression that is commonly used as a rhetorical device, whereby a speaker acknowledges that a situation was handled poorly or inappropriately but seeks to evade any direct admission or accusation of responsibility by using the passive voice, which allows for the deletion of the agent (the person who made the mistakes). The acknowledgement of “mistakes” is framed in an abstract sense, with no direct reference to who made the mistakes. An active voice construction might be along the lines of “I made mistakes” or “John Doe made mistakes.” The speaker neither accepts personal responsibility nor accuses anyone else. The word “mistakes” also does not imply intent.
Good post. Everybody who reads or listens to news should be aware of that. I remember seeing that collection of weasel words being ridiculed some 30 years ago.
When i read the title i thought, “ okay, typical passive voice.” In the paragraph where he talks about shortcuts, he does say, “ ...mistakes we made...”
you shouldn’t have attached a link to that. you could have taken credit for that astute summation. haha. I was reading that thinking “this person must be a political communication professor.”