The sum total of this media coverage — real stories based on editorial decisions about how to weight and present real facts — was to give the public the impression that two similarly ethically flawed candidates were running against each other in an election with low policy stakes. The reporters and editors responsible for that coverage can reasonably (if a bit absurdly) consider themselves proud of the work that led the public to that conclusion or they can consider themselves ashamed of it. But the idea that voters were moved by fake stories about the pope rather than all-too-real ones about email servers is a preposterous evasion.
I think there is some truth to this — the media gave a false equivalency to Trump and Clinton. Trump benefited because it toned down his warts. Clinton suffered because it exaggerated her minuses.
And I think there was one more issue. Hilary lost some votes because she is a woman. If she had been a man, more men would have voted for her. It is that simple.