A transition. For White House reporters, too. From President Punctual to, perhaps, President Ten-Minutes-Early. The Obamas appeared at the White House at just about 1:50pm, ahead of their scheduled 2:00pm arrival, catching reporters flat-footed.

Or, as Fox News’s Brett Baier described it moments later:

The Obamas were early, as we know. The exact time was supposed to be 2:00 p.m. on the dot and they pulled up just before 1:50. What I noticed outside on the north lawn was a bunch of reporters running to their positions and camera men thinking that they may have missed the moment…

How did the cable news folks handle (live!) the earlier-than-expected arrival? What off-the-cuff insights did they offer viewers?

Here was Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC:

As we watch now, the limousine pulling up…We are about to see the President-Elect arriving for the first time at the White House with Michelle Obama…Let’s see if they say anything. This is quite a moment in history….Laura Bush will be taking Michelle Obama upstairs. You see, upstairs, the residence, the yellow Oval room which backs up to the south grounds which is where the First Family spends a lot of time… quite a moment…

Mitchell finally “apologized” that “they arrived actually ten minutes early… we were expecting it at 2:00…”

On Fox News, at go-time, a fashion observation:

MARTHA MACCALLUM: And there they go. You listen to the click, click, click of all of those cameras because that, folks, is the photo of the day… Your heart just stops watching this play out and you see the beautiful transition of power we have in this country. Obviously the respect that’s shown between these two gentlemen and the two women. Interesting they wore very similar dresses. This is something that only a woman would notice. Laura Bush in a rusted red dress in a similar style to the one that Michelle Obama chose for this very important lunch, maybe the most important luncheon of her life …

(I’d add: President and President-Elect both wore white shirts and ties in a similar shade of blue).

On CNN? Some mind-reading:

HEIDI COLLINS: We’re looking at live pictures here, President Bush and the First Lady waiting…Barack Obama just now pulling up and getting ready to get out of the car and greet the President and First Lady. There it is right there. Doug, you can just imagine what’s going through his mind. This is the first time he and his wife are stepping foot on the White House lawn here and about to enter their new home. I mean, the feeling has got to be overwhelming in many ways.


DOUG BRINKLEY (Historian): Well, it is. Remember, John McCain during the campaign used to criticize Barack Obama all the time saying he’s already measuring the drapes. Well, now, he is measuring the drapes today. They’re starting to imagine their own belongings in this house and starting to imagine what it will be like for their children toll grow up there…


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.