Twitter Vs. Brand X: What Will TV News Do Without The Bird?

TV news has long relied on Twitter to fuel the fire of its “reporting” on news and current affairs.

Will they make the same use of “X” in the wake of Elon Musk’s decision to trash the Twitter brand? 

For years, TV news outrage stories -- about a prominent politician, a court decision, moves by either party to dismantle the policies the other put in place and more -- come with Twitter commentary blasted on screen to bolster the stories’ anger angles.

The anchorman or anchorwoman then reads the tweet out loud. “#SCOTUSSUCKS! If you see a justice, shun them in supermarkets and restaurants! Don’t feed them!!” Signed, OutrageDude.



Stories on news websites often post several of these in their outrage stories, but TV news really has time for only one.

I have no doubt that in some instances, Twitter “outrage” as reflected in the number of angry tweets on a hashtag subject does rise to “anger” levels.

But sometimes I have gone in search of all this outcry and have found just a few. And even if I had found, say, a thousand, is this enough to label a story an “outrage”?

TV newsies might already be wondering if “X” can be applied in the same way as “Twitter.” “X erupted with outrage today over new data revealing that hundreds of prairie dogs every year are being run over on our western highways,” a story might say.

“Here’s what one X-er had to say in an X,” says one of the anchors: “Shame on you, truckers! Prairie dogs are SooOOO cuuUUUte! #Prairiedogscute.” Signed, PrairieMom.

In this usage, “X” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Twitter.” Moreover, “Twitter” is an established brand of great renown. 

By contrast, “X” is just a letter that presents challenges to Scrabble players, although when you manage to place it on a “triple letter score” or, even better, a “triple word score,” watch out!

“X marks the spot,” X-rays, “X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes” (Roger Corman film from 1963) -- these are just three of the ways in which “X” turns up in our popular culture.

“X” was also the title of a 1992 Spike Lee film about Malcolm X. Maybe Spike will sue. This is not without precedent. 

When the Viacom cable network TNN was rebranded as Spike TV in 2003, Spike Lee sued and actually won an injunction that delayed the Spike launch for eight weeks. A settlement was reached that allowed Spike TV to proceed with its launch plans.

As a brand name, the stand-alone letter “X” might remind many of “brand X,” referring to generic goods for which a brand name is considered irrelevant.

Instead of X, Elon Musk could have chosen “Chi,” which is sometimes considered to be the “x” of Greek. 

But “Chi,” pronounced differently than the Greek letter, is already the name of a Showtime drama about Chicago.

Reportedly, “tweets” will now be “x’s” (or xes?) and tweeters will be “x-ers.” That sounds like Generation X-ers, which only sows more confusion. 

According to the various reports on the Twitter rebranding, Musk, along with CEO Linda Yaccarino (her own tweet on the name change pictured above), has big plans for the platform -- “audio, video, messaging and banking capabilities,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

As unusual as this rebranding might seem, Musk is a visionary whose success speaks for itself. After all, this is a man who named one of his children X Æ A-Xii, so rebranding Twitter as X is nothing compared to that.

As for TV’s reliance on Twitter (now X) to stoke its outrage stories, it is doubtful that Elon Musk gave that a moment’s thought.

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