I’ve heard the American media described accurately at a bunch of 7 year-olds at a youth soccer game. There’s nothing strategic about the game; all the kids chase the soccer ball in a pack. I thought of that when I read a story about enduring sickness in the Gulf of Mexico. It didn’t come from ABC, or NBC, or CBS, or Fox News, or CNN, or any local outlet. It came from Al Jazeera.

“I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body,” 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera. “Yesterday I went to see another doctor to get my blood test results and the nurse said she didn’t know how I even got there.”

Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.

“I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me,” Aguinaga said. “At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I’ve been extremely sick ever since.”

BP’s oil disaster last summer gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, causing the largest accidental marine oil spill in history – and the largest environmental disaster in US history. Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons toxic dispersants, including one chemical that has been banned in the UK.

According to chemist Bob Naman, these chemicals create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.

If you read the article, you realize that the dispersants are causing the sickness as much as the oil. And, because they are mixing around in the water, they then participate in evaporation and precipitation, with the dispersant chemicals reaching more of the population through rainfall. Merrick Vallian, the friend of Steven Aguinaga, has already died from chemical exposure.

This is why Hillary Clinton said that Al Jazeera is real news, and by implication what passes for real news in this country isn’t. Merely touching the Gulf of Mexico is causing a host of serious medical problems. That’s happening right in our country. And if it weren’t for Al Jazeera, there would be a near-total media blackout. At least in the national media; from what I can tell, the Times-Picayune has had decent coverage.

Why o why can’t we have a better media?