Succession Season 4 Episode 8: What is a demagogue?

Cameron Frew
Jeryd Mencken in Succession

In Succession Season 4 Episode 8, Jeryd Mencken says he’s not a “demagogue” – but what is that, and what does it mean?

In our review, we said it’s the fourth season’s “most entertaining, incendiary episode yet; in all of its shameless ugliness and point-blank refusal to bend to sentiment, it’s the Hugo to Aaron Sorkin’s Bart.”

The episode takes place over the course of one nail-biting Election Night, with Jeryd Mencken and Daniel Jiménez going to war at the polls while Kendall, Roman, Shiv, Tom, and Greg bicker and try to hold down the fort at ATN, all while Lukas Matsson watches carefully at home.

As the episode draws to a close, Mencken gives a speech in which he says he’s not a “demagogue” – if you want to know what that means, we’ve got a quick breakdown for you.

Succession: What does demagogue mean?

As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, a demagogue is a “person, especially a political leader, who wins support by exciting the emotions of ordinary people rather than by having good or morally right ideas.” also describes it as “a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.”

Mencken has been floating around Succession since Season 3’s ‘What It Takes’, where the Roys gathered with a cabal of America’s conservative elites to choose the next president. Connor may want to be the POTUS, but Logan Roy knew the stronger position: being the person who controls the leader of the free world.

Mencken is a charismatic figure, but he’s also a far-right extremist, branded by Shiv as a “YouTube provocateur” and “aristo-populist” who talks about “burning Korans and licensing press credentials.” Even Kendall can see that he’s a fascist, and his followers exhibit the same traits as some MAGA supporters; they’re often racist and aggressive, rallied by Mencken’s all-American rhetoric.

So, it’s not surprising to hear him try to distance himself from being a “demagogue”, even though that’s exactly what he is – he’s not “something clean in this polluted land,” he is the pollution.

Succession Season 4 Episodes 1-8 are streaming on HBO and Sky now. Episode 9 will be available to watch on May 21 in the US and May 22 in the UK. Check out our other coverage below:

Season 4 cast | Season 4 release schedule | Season 4 runtimes | Is Succession based on a real family? | Who will succeed Logan Roy? | What time does Succession drop?

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About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, and Oscars enthusiast. He loves Invincible, but he's also a fan of The Boys, the MCU, The Chosen, and much more. You can contact him at