Taking widespread malaise over leadership in democracies as its point of departure, this project explores why, and under what conditions, leaders' public ethics lapses undermine people's trust. It analyzes key corruption cases In Japan, Italy, and the U.S., and uses the research tool of focus groups In Japan, to illuminate this question. There are three main explanations for the rise of public ethics violations in democracies: institutional shortcomings (e.g., the electoral system or political funding rules); the media, particularly the eclipse of newspapers by television, and the resulting transformation of reporting and coverage norms; and value preferences and value change. This study explores all three. At stake are the bonds binding leaders and the governed in democracies.