January 01, 1999 12:00 AM

Former football star Frank Gifford defended his wife, Kathie Lee Gifford, during a heated Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday when labor activists said her clothing line is still produced in foreign sweatshops. Gifford told members of the National Labor Committee that his wife was working hard to improve conditions at the factories and said he was unhappy the group released its findings before discussing them with her. Charles Kernaghan, head of the National Labor Committee, said he told Gifford he was sorry Mrs. Gifford had become the brunt of talk show jokes and other criticism (Jay Leno’s really gone to town over the matter) but that Kathie Lee’s discomfort cannot be likened to the plight of the sweatshop workers who earn as little as 50 cents an hour.

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