Reporters sprint to dig up dirt smearing ‘Hope for Prisoners’ black founder Trump pardoned at RNC

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New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel was blasted for scrutinizing a non-profit organization aimed at helping former inmates after its founder was recognized and praised by President Donald Trump during the Republican National Convention on Tuesday.

Vogel took to Twitter to attack Jon Ponder, a black man and former inmate himself who found Christ while incarcerated and started the organization “Hope for Prisoners” after he was released.

“JON PONDER’s story is inspirational,” Vogel wrote on Twitter in which he posted a copy of the organization’s tax form.

“But should he be endorsing a candidate for president while being identified as the founder & CEO of Hope for Prisoners, which — as a 501(c)(3) non-partisan non-profit group — is barred from participating in partisan politics?”

Vogel was immediately set upon by supporters of the organization and defenders of Ponder, who received a full pardon from the president during an RNC segment Tuesday evening.

“Do you know how many swampy DC organizations do this on a daily basis?! You start with Hope for Prisoners?! Not journalism,” former Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell wrote in response to Vogel’s post.

“The New York Times is trying to cancel a good man and drag him through the mud. They’re literally trying to shut down an organization that does so much good work. It’s disgusting,” added Steven Cheung, a senior communications official with the Trump campaign and a former special assistant to the president.

While some users pointed out groups like the Clinton Foundation are registered as non-partisan though its founders, Bill and Hillary Clinton remain politically active, others noted that individuals who found non-profits can support whomever they chose while separate from their organizations. Still, others noted that Ponder did not actually endorse the president during the segment, nor did he do so on behalf of his organization.

Others defended Ponder as well while blasting Vogel and the media in general for incessantly attacking the president no matter what he does for Americans.

**Warning: Strong language

Guy Benson, the political editor at TownHall, posted a prophetic tweet in which he predicted that the president and Ponder would be assailed by the media.

“He’s going to get them to attack him for pardoning a black ex-felon & naturalizing five immigrants of color on primetime television,” Benson wrote Tuesday evening around the time that the president and Ponder were interacting.

As he introduced Ponder, President Trump noted that he grew up without a father and was arrested at age 38 for bank robbery. While in prison, Ponder began reading and studying the Bible, which the former inmate later said influenced him to improve his life and found his organization.

Also appearing with Ponder was Richard Beasley, a former FBI special agent who arrested Ponder for the bank robbery. After Ponder was released from prison a decade ago, Beasley went to see him and the two have been friends since.

Hope for Prisoners, which is based in Las Vegas, “assists with reentry by providing the formerly incarcerated long-term support and services as they work to reclaim their lives,  families and standing in the community,” according to its website. “We give them hope. Hope changes lives.”

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Jon Dougherty

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