Television is at its scattershot worst in "The American Promise," a public affairs special that KNBC Channel 4 is broadcasting at 10 tonight. The first in a series of programs on this subject from the NBC-owned stations, it flits about from one talking head to another without ever clarifying its premise or focusing on an issue.
In the first part of the program, host John Chancellor simultaneously interviews four people in different parts of the country about their lives. It's just a tad disjointed: In one space of about five minutes, they touch on the topics of welfare, unemployment, immigration laws, foreign trade restrictions and a woman's conflict between career and parenting.
But wait, there's more. In the second part, Chancellor and a panel of in-studio guests comment on what the out-of-studio guests had to say, then go on to raise matters as diverse as drugs, poverty and the national debt.
In a fitting summation, Chancellor concludes this superficial exercise with the observation: "I think we all know that an awful lot of work has to be done if we're going to keep the country going."
Equally certain is that we won't get any of it done wasting our time watching programs like this.