On his February 25 radio show, Glenn Beck attacked Michelle Obama for allegedly lavish spending on staffers and parties, saying, "The first lady's office needs 43 people? For what? These people are out of control. It is really Marie Antoinette." PolitiFact.com checked Beck's claim and found that, in fact, "Michelle Obama has a staff of 25, not 43. ... The size of Michelle Obama's staff is similar to that of her immediate predecessors." PolitiFact gave Beck its "Pants on Fire" rating:
Glenn Beck rekindled a falsehood about the size of Michelle Obama's staff last week, comparing the First Lady to Marie Antoinnete, and citing her large staff as evidence that the Obamas are "out of control."
And Beck's comment that Michelle Obama "just hired a personal shopper" also is wrong. The claim appears to have its roots in a Feb. 21, 2011 Washington Post report that, "according to several people with knowledge of her White House arrangement," Chicago boutique owner Ikram Goldman's role as "shopper in chief" has been taken over by Michelle Obama's longtime personal assistant, Meredith Koop.
"There has been no recent addition of a personal shopper," said McCormick-Lelyveld. "Like previous First Ladies, Mrs. Obama has a personal aide who is part of the residence staff and who provides general support for the First Lady, including purchasing clothes when necessary."
So to summarize, Michelle Obama has a staff of 25, not 43 as Beck claimed. Nancy Reagan had a staff of about 15 (not 3, as Beck claimed). The size of Michelle Obama's staff is similar to that of her immediate predecessors. And she did not just hire a new personal shopper. In short, Beck's outrage is based on numbers that are wildly off the mark. We rate his claim Pants on Fire.