CNN Adds Mark Esper and Leah Wright Rigueur to Political Commentator Ranks

By Mark Mwachiro 

On Wednesday, CNN announced two additions to its deep roster of political commentators, signaling that it continues to search for more diverse voices to provide more insightful analysis during this consequential election year.

Dr. Mark T. Esper, the former Secretary of Defense during the Trump administration, has joined the network as a global affairs analyst and political commentator.

Esper is currently a partner and board member at the venture capital firm Red Cell Partners. While he was Secretary of Defense, Esper led the department during the conflict with Iran, an ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, counter-terrorist operations in the Middle East and open competition with China and Russia amidst a fundamental shift in the geo-strategic environment. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Esper co-led Operation Warp Speed, the national effort to accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines.


In addition to Esper, CNN announced that Leah Wright Rigueur is joining the network as an on-air contributor. She was previously a contributor for ABC News, serving in that capacity from 2020 to 2023.

Rigueur is currently the SNF Agora Institute Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of the award-winning book The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power and has hosted the critically acclaimed and award-winning podcast Reclaimed: The Story of Mamie Till-Mobley.

In 2023, the National Podcasting Academy named Rigueur the “Best Podcasting Host of the Year” for her work on Reclaimed.