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June 13, 2016

Political Pull

Paula Hendrickson
  • Jay Mallin

ven before emigrating from Uruguay to the U.S. at age nine, Fernando Espuelas was fascinated by politics.

"In Uruguay, at the dinner table, there were two major topics: soccer and politics," says the host of Hearst Television's Matter of Fact with Fernando Espuelas,syndicated in nearly 70 percent of the nation.

By the time he was five, a violent coup had awakened his passion. "Politics became very real as members of my family were kidnapped and tortured by the military. That was part of the reason my mother and I came to the United States."

He acclimated quickly. In sixth grade he formed a student government and started a school newspaper.

"As a kid, a significant portion of my allowance was spent buying the New York Times every morning. I was a complete and utter junkie of the Sunday morning shows, but there were only five channels back then. I watched them all religiously and found them endlessly fascinating."

In 2008 the young entrepreneur (named one of the nation's 100 most influential Hispanics by Poder magazine in 2012) created Radio Espuelas, a daily bilingual talk show heard on the Univision Radio Network. With Matter of Fact, Espuelas now has a Sunday-morning political show of his own, and he sets the rules.

"My perspective is very simple: two plus two is four anywhere in the universe." If a guest says something spurious, Espuelas will question or correct it.

"We're not out to get anybody," he explains. "Our mission is to be the best funnel of high-quality, truthful information for our audience."

To that end, guests are not just political insiders, but a variety of analysts who can offer fresh voices and perspectives from outside the Beltway.

"I want to give people the framework to analyze what really is going on," Espuelas says. "Most people will get it. Not everyone, because some people love ideology and love to feel like a victim. But most people will say, 'What can I do? What's my role in all this?' instead of being a victim."

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