MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann announced tonight his sudden departure from (and the total collapsing of) Countdown. Shocker. TheWrap is reporting that the underlying motive may have been to create a “new media empire.” But the suddenness of the departure indicates some kind of dispute with MSNBC’s Phil Griffin.

Olbermann is a brilliant and perceptive analyst, naturally funny and quippy, has a nose that is highly attuned and has never missed the subtlest bullshit-dealing trick, and is an excellent if not glorious world-class hater for (almost) all things right, fiendish, regressive, hee-haw, stupid, Fox/, Tea Party, corporate, Palin, Bachmann, etc. May God love and embrace him for this in this life and the next. Re-surfacing is a fait accompli, of course. I’ll follow the guy anywhere.

From AOL News: “Olbermann’s peripatetic career landed him at MSNBC eight years ago — his second prime-time stint on the network — with a humorous show counting down the day’s top stories. That changed on Aug. 30, 2006, when Olbermann aired the first of a series of densely-worded and blistering ‘special comments,’ this time expressing anger at then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld‘s criticism of opponents to the war in Iraq.

“More anti-Bush administration commentary followed. Olbermann dropped any pretense of journalistic objectivity, and he became a hero to liberals battered by the popularity of Fox News Channel and its conservative commentators. Olbermann openly feuded with Fox, often naming personalities like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck one of his ‘worst persons in the world’ for some of their statements.

Countdown became MSNBC’s most popular show. Instantly, a network that had often floundered in seeking a direction molded itself after Olbermann. Opinion was in, and MSNBC’s prime-time lineup was filled out with Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, who both had been subs for Olbermann when he was away.

“During his moment on his final Countdown Olbermann “thanked several people, including the late Tim Russert, but pointedly not MSNBC honcho Phil Griffin or NBC News president Steve Capus.”