The Charleston church shooting was because the shooter "watches things like Fox News," according to South Carolina State House Minority Leader Rep. J. Todd Rutherford (D).
Rutherford, a longtime friend of State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the AME church who was murdered on Wednesday, make the comments to CNN's "The Lead."
In his explanation for the mass killings, in which 21-year-old Dylan Roof murdered nine, Rutherford claimed that news channels like Fox News "broadcast what they call news, but it's not. It's really hate speech and coded language."
Rutherford stated: "The problem is this, the rhetoric in South Carolina, the rhetoric nationwide, has led people to believe like this young man, that it's okay to walk into a church and take nine lives. That it's okay to take the life of a state senator, that it's okay to sit in a church, and pray with people for an hour before you decide to take their lives. It's not okay. It needs to change."
He added, "South Carolina is one of five states that does not have a hate crimes law. South Carolina is still the only state that I am aware of that still flies a Confederate flag in front of the State House dome. South Carolina represents, and is emblematic of the problem, which is words that come from these networks that broadcast what they call news, but it's not. It's really hate speech and coded language, and leads people to believe that they can walk into a church, because it's no longer a house of God, it's a killing ground. It's a place they can feel free to desecrate and leave blood everywhere, and that's what this young man did. And he did so based on some ill-gotten belief, on some wrong belief that it's okay to do that.
"He hears that, because he watches the news, and he watches things like Fox News, where they talk about things that they call news, but they're really not. They use that coded language, they use hate speech, they talk about the president as if he's not the president. They talk about church-goers as if they're really not church-goers. And that's what this young man acted on. That's why he could walk into a church and treat people like animals when they're really human beings."
Here is a video of Todd Rutherford's comments about Fox News to CNN:
Here is a second video of Todd Rutherford being challenged about his comments by Fox News: