MSNBC's Mariana Atencio: Rich, Gorgeous, Famous, and a Victim

Mariana Atencio, a broadcast correspondent for MSNBC, is beautiful and wealthy and lefty. Growing up in oil-rich yet impoverished Venezuela, Atencio enjoyed the privileged life of one of that country's wealthy and fair-skinned elites. She was a princess in a country of eye-numbing hillside slums and explosive class divisions.

She was a One Percenter.

But Atencio's dizzying social status couldn't immunize her against the toxic effects of Hugo Chávez 's "21st century socialism,” which plunged the South American nation into unprecedented levels of misery. So Atencio, like many other upper-crusty Venezuelans (many no doubt enriched by Venezuela's widespread corruption), escaped to the U.S. She arrived here eight years ago. Eventually settling with her Venezuelan-Lebanese husband in the tony town of Coral Gables (one of Miami-Dade county's whitest enclaves) the dark-eyed Venezuelan beauty quickly reinvented herself.

She started calling herself a "Latina."

She got her big start as a Miami-based correspondent for Latino-centric Univision and Fusion, and last September moved to left-leaning MSNBC. Like pal Jorge Ramos (the Mexican-born Univision anchor who trades in Latino tribalism) Atencio, age 32, now trades in identity politics as she promotes her progressive agenda. On her Facebook page, she expressed contempt for Donald Trump during his presidential run and ridiculed his pledge to enforce immigration laws. (Oh well, so much for journalistic impartiality.) She also supports open borders, even though Venezuela's open-borders policies helped destroy her own country as millions of unskilled immigrants from Colombia and elsewhere gravitated to Venezuela's pervasive hillside slums. In a report for Univision and Fusion, she made the sweeping claim that illegal immigrants in Detroit were "rebuilding” the city.

Atencio attended Columbia University's graduate school of journalism on what she says was a scholarship based totally on merit. Yet she can't figure out if she's a journalist or model as evidence by hundreds of photos of herself she has posted on social media. It's a showcase of narcissism. Recent photos reveal the worldview of a misguided teenager. In one she wears a T-shirt sporting a 1960's leftist peace symbol while flashing the V-shaped peace sign with one hand.

Atencio, the Latina princess, also plays the victim card by casting herself and fellow Latinos as a suffering discrimination from all those racist white people. She energetically promotes diversity -- an ideology that eschews a meritocracy for ethnic and racial preferences. Why does she do it? Self-interest may play a role. By posing in America as a member of a protected victim class, Atencio regains some of the privileges she lost when Hugo Chávez turned Venezuela into a socialist-run nightmare -- a calamity that sent her and others like her fleeing abroad.

Atencio's latest idiocy is a Facebook post urging fellow Latinos to relate how they "overcame discrimination." This is related to an upcoming "TED Talks" event in Nevada, a conference series revolving around trendy "ideas."

It would be interesting to hear what kind of discrimination Atencio has suffered. For her honeymoon last year, she and her husband went on safari in South Africa, and over the Christmas holiday they vacationed in a luxury tourist area in Italy -- all documented on her Facebook page. She definitely enjoys her white Hispanic privilege. I have a question for Mariana: How come neither you nor your former colleagues at Univision and Fusion look anything like the illegal immigrants flooding over America's southern border?

Atencio, apparently a legal resident who hopes to become a citizen, is a fluent English speaker. She honed her language skills in a rite of passage undertaken by many sons and daughters of wealthy Venezuelans. As a youngster, she and her siblings attended summer camp in the U.S. so they could learn English. Recalling the pricey tennis camp she attended in Minnesota, Atencio was quoted as saying that "All the other kids had blonde hair and blue eyes except for us." Oh, the inhumanity!

Racism is a big concern for Atencio who, in one Facebook post, opined: “2014 was the year of the protest. With student protests sparking over racism in Missouri, Yale, Smith and now Ithaca... will 2015 be the same??” Notice the reference to “racism” -- as opposed to “alleged racism.” Oh, well, journalistic impartiality is unimportant when you have an agenda.

Atencio, a Latina chauvinist, recently praised Mexican actor Diego Luna for speaking Spanish to the English-speaking audience at the Golden Globe Awards. In a tweet, the muddle-headed Atencio said this was a “great step toward more inclusiveness at (the) awards show.”


That such ethnic chauvinism comes from a rich Venezuelan expatriate is ironic. After all, more than a few members of Atencio's elite social class helped to usher in Hugo Chávez by pursuing their venal self-interest above all else even as the go-go days of “Saudi Venezuela” vanished. Atencio, to be sure, is not the only filthy-rich Venezuelan expatriate in this country who embraces the ideological left while enjoying the high life -- helping to destroy this country like they helped destroy their own.

Interestingly, one line of the old and wealthy Atencio family traces its ancestry to oil-rich Maracaibo in northwestern Venezuela. The family was large landowners -- and slave owners. When Atencio was a starlet at Fusion and Univision, I sent her note via Fusion's website asking about her family background. She didn't respond.

I lived for eight years in Venezuela, writing for the international section of the Miami Herald and McGraw-Hill Platt's, among other news outlets. I was friendly with an upper-crusty Venezuelan lawyer, a decent man with a patrician bearing and background. Once he told me about how he'd gotten his daughter into the elite Phillips-Exeter Academy. In the application, the proud father wrote that she was a “mestizo.” I laughed, but I wasn't laughing at my friend's deceit. I was laughing at Phillips Exeter's stupidity. So what did Atencio put down on Columbia's scholarship application when queried about her race and ethnicity? I doubt it is what I always list when asked such questions: “decline to answer.”

Atencio, for her part, is not the only Latina princess trading in lefty grievance mongering. Consider the career of a journalism professor named Lydia Chávez in the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

In her book The Color Blind about California's effort to end affirmative action, Chávez readily admits that she has benefited both from affirmative action and the leftist ideology of "diversity." In her book's introduction, she writes: "My enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and my employment at the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley -- all were assisted either directly by affirmative action programs or indirectly by the receptivity toward minorities and women that these programs fostered. I continue to see the importance of affirmative action for all of the students I teach."

What Chávez neglects to say is that she grew up like Atencio on the lap of privilege. Her father was a multi-millionaire businessman who lived a rags-to-riches story starting in New Mexico. Today the Cincinnati-based Chávez family operates airport parking lots across the country and has extensive real estate and investment interests. Incidentally, Chávez like Atencio is what might be called a "white Hispanic": she looks nothing like most illegal immigrants, whose appearance is more indigenous than European.

Stressing the importance of affirmative action programs, Chávez also wrote: "Without these programs, how would the United States bring into the fold people long shut out of mainstream America?" One has to wonder if Lydia Chávez 's brothers and sisters in Cincinnati employed affirmative action when hiring the pilots who fly their Learjet on regular trips in the US and Caribbean.

I sent Professor Chávez an email asking how she reconciled her sense of entitlement with the fact that she grew up filthy rich, and I asked what “diversity” she brings to her teaching. She didn't respond. However, when I put this same question to Berkeley's dean of journalism, Edward Wasserman, he responded with a lengthy email, writing in part: “The larger question you raise is whether, as a general matter, affirmative action is misdirected to the degree it privileges ethnicity or race, even in the absence of evidence that for a particular person ethnicity or race actually constituted a life disadvantage that warrants remedial consideration. It's a good question. My own perspective is an institutional one. For us, lack of diversity remains a concern, and I think I owe it to the school I run and to the profession I serve to try to increase the presence of people who are tied, by blood, culture or life experience, to groups that have traditionally been under-represented as teachers and students, and undeserved as citizens.”

Notice the reference to "blood" and "culture” -- words that at the risk of hyperbole are vaguely Naziesque. This same ideology is what the left in fact puts forth as it trades in identity politics and multiculturalism -- ideologies that are proving to be profitable for self-entitled media starlet Mariana Atencio.

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