Gio Benitez is hoping to marry the two jobs he holds for ABC News.
As the Disney unit’s transportation correspondent, he has been close to the recent movement into private space travel. As a newly named co-anchor for the weekend edition of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he will handle stories that draw out viewers’ emotions and attention. He will continue to handle both roles.
“I’m a space geek,” says Benitez, “and I get to still keep on doing it.”
“I’ll tell you what he’s pitching,” says Simone Swink, the executive producer of ABC’s A.M. flagship. “He wants to be the first civilian and journalist on whatever the first mission to Mars is. That will be our ongoing conversation for the next five years.”
“One thing I love to do is I love to examine the human condition, and there are so many ways to do that and so many different stories.” says Benitez. “What I’m excited about is I’ll be able to stretch into that territory.”
Viewers are going to hear a lot more from Benitez starting Saturday. He will join the program’s weekend broadcasts alongside current co-anchors Whit Johnson and Janai Norman.
The anchors are not strangers. Indeed, in his early 20s, Benitez reached out to Johnson, tben a CBS News correspondent, for advice. Johnson wrote back. And he continued to check in on how Benitez progressed in his career. “Now it has come full circle,” says Benitez.
Benitez has been ABC News’ transportation correspondent since 2020 and joined the division in 2013. During his time at the network, he has covered such events as the Pulse nightclub shooting, El Chapo’s underground escape from a Mexican prison and the Boston Marathon bombing. He also has a history of breaking exclusive investigative stories, and some have led to important safety recalls. Before joining ABC News in 2013, he was a reporter for WFOR-TV in Miami.
“Gio is an intrepid journalist and talented anchor, and his addition marks an exciting, new chapter for the best weekend morning program in the business fueled by the tireless work and dedication of co-anchors Whit and Janai, Simone and the team,” says Kim Godwin, the president of ABC News, in a prepared statment. “I look forward to Gio’s unique energy and to Gio bringing more enterprise and feature reporting to the program.”
When he kicks off his tenure on “GMA” this weekend, Benitez will likely be carrying his grandfather’s pocketwatch, a tribute to his grandparents, he says. “They left communist Cuba with absolultely nothing and came to this country,” he recounts. “So to be able to sit on a desk that has, quite literally, the name of the country that gave them so much hope, that’s very, vfery inspiring to me.”
The countdown to a possible Mars mission starts this weekend.
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