Video of the Day: What JoePa Taught Newt About Assistant Coaches

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A cringeworthy clip of the former speaker praising the late football legend

Some things you just can't make up. For instance: is it really plausible that there's a clip on the Internet of Newt Gingrich gushing about the great advice he received from Joe Paterno on how to deal with assistant coaches? Of course it's not. And yet there it is.

The clip is from an appearance on Charlie Rose in 1998, when Gingrich was still speaker of the House, Paterno was still in his spry 70s, and Jerry Sandusky was still a respected member of the Penn State football coaching staff. While it was common for people of all stripes to praise Paterno for his probity and leadership right up until the child sexual-abuse scandal that rocked State College, what makes this clip particularly squirm-worthy is that Gingrich zeroes in Paterno's management of his assistant coaches. Prosecutors allege that Sandusky began abusing children as early as 1994, although there's no indication that Paterno knew anything about it until 2002.

Says Gingrich, "Joe Paterno gave me very good advice about how he deals with assistant coaches.... If the coach and the assistant coaches don't have their act together, they're going to be offering very conflicting signals." If Newt learned that lesson, he must have forgotten it by the time he mounted his run for president, as his campaign has been plagued by disorganization and mismanagement.

Hat tip: Andrew Kaczynski

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David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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