A South Carolina lawmaker, who said he was friends with one of the nine church victims, said that Fox News, the Confederate flag and the lack of “hate”-crime laws in his state are all to blame for Dylann Roof’s alleged rampage.

Regarding Fox News, Todd Rutherford – the state legislator who touted friendship with fellow lawmaker, Rev. Clementa Pinckney – claimed the network used “coded language” to further “hate speech.”

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“[The gunman] 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,” he said, during an interview with CNN. “They use that coded language, they use hate speech, they talk about the president as if he’s not the president, they talk about churchgoers that they’re not really churchgoers. And that’s what this young man acted on. That’s why you can walk into a church and treat people like animals when they’re really human beings.”

Rutherford also said South Carolina exacerbated such attitudes because it flies the Confederate flag right at the state Capitol, and it is one of only five states that doesn’t have “hate”-crimes laws, Mediaite reported.

Rutherford later made an appearance on Fox News with Bill O’Reilly to discuss what the host called his “disturbing” remarks – but the lawmaker only doubled down on them, explaining how a lot of black people are bothered by the discussions that take place on Fox.

As one example, Rutherford accused the network of advancing birther stories about the president.

“It is disturbing,” he said. “It is disturbing to most African-Americans to watch as Fox News continues to cover stories as to whether the president is truly the president, whether he was born in this country.”

O’Reilly cut in to said: “I don’t know anybody on this network who does that. No one. And I see everything here.”

The two then engaged in some fiery back-and-forths, with O’Reilly requesting Rutherford explain how he knew Roof watched Fox News. The two eventually talked over each other, and O’Reilly finally said: “Mr. Rutherford, let me get a question out. Are you going to stand there tonight and say that Fox News justifies brutal crimes against black Americans?”

Rutherford responded by accusing O’Reilly of “inflaming the rhetoric” and said, “You are exactly what I’m talking about.”

Rutherford again claimed the network was acting irresponsibly in its coverage of Obama.

See WND’s extensive coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre:

Was church shooter on powerful mind-altering drug?

Charleston shooter ‘wanted to start a civil war’

Big radio talkers react to church massacre

Charleston church shooter: ‘You rape our women’

Obama: America must ‘do something’ about ‘gun violence

Hero of 1993 church attack calls for being armed

BIG LIST of drug-induced killers

Dylann Roof confesses: ‘Everyone so nice’ at church

‘You hurt a lot of people, but I forgive you’

Lindsey Graham defends Confederate flag

Carolina courage in face of my cousin’s murder

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